Nothing but love between American hockey stars Modano, Roenick at American Century Championship

Anthony Gentile
Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano tracks his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the American Century Championship on Sunday, July 24, at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

STATELINE — During the introduction of Hall of Famer Mike Modano prior to the second round of the American Century Championship on Saturday, July 23, at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, fellow American hockey player Jeremy Roenick had a correction. In the midst of Modano’s resume, Roenick whispered an addition to the announcer.

“And he’s the greatest American hockey player ever born,” the announcer told fans on the first tee after Roenick’s clarification.

The superlative is indicative of a mutual respect between the two American superstars that battled in the National Hockey League for more than two decades. Off the ice, it’s now nothing but love for Modano and Roenick.

“It’s a major bromance going on, there’s a lot of mutual respect for each other,” Modano said alongside Roenick during a post-round press conference Saturday. “Our lives have changed as we’ve gotten older, and hockey is hockey and real life is real life.”

During their playing days, Roenick was responsible for giving Modano one of his three career concussions and fierce competition. After their round Saturday playing with a third American hockey player — San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski — Roenick only had praise to dish out for his former rival.

“I think anytime that Mike Modano is introduced, no matter where it is, he’s got to be recognized as the best American hockey player ever born,” Roenick said. “I’ll believe that now, I’ll say it and I’ll be his biggest advocate. But, you know, he’s done a lot for American hockey. I battled with him for many years and tried to emulate him in a lot of ways.”

Modano returned the compliment.

“I know we had some long, hard nights against each other for many years … but I think J.R. has always brought the best out in me,” Modano said. “I knew I had to be at my best, but I think that’s what makes us kind of really have a unique relationship — is that we were good for each other throughout our career.”

Roenick said his battles with Modano were largely rooted in the fact that he always strived to match the play of the long-time Minnesota North Star and Dallas Star. Now retired, both players live near each other in Arizona and spend time together with one another’s families.

“You take that battle, and you take that battle and you leave that battle on the battlefield,” Roenick said. “He knows how much I love him, and I think that’s what’s most important.

“He made me better and I made him better. And that’s what pro sports is all about.”

On the course at Edgewood Tahoe during the 27th ACC, both players were in contention the entire weekend before delivering top-five finishes. Roenick took fourth with 66 points with Modano a point behind in fifth place.

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