I learned to play hockey in Highland Park, Illinois as a five-year old kid. It took a while until I was able to skate, handle the puck and get dressed all by myself. It was not until 1988, the Minnesota North Stars drafted the number one pick Mike Modano, when I first discovered an idol on the ice.
That year, I played a hockey tournament in West Berlin, a year before the wall fell. We played a team from Czechoslovakia, who dominated us with coordinated attacks and smoother techniques, even with simpler hockey gear, beat us on every corner of the ice.
In between games, I visited a pro shop in the now defunct rink at Jaffestrasse, and I heard about Modano for the first time. It’s where I got my first North Stars hat. It took a while until I saw Modano play on tv, it must have been in the early nineties in New York – ever since then I wanted to be like Mike. He had the same height and weight and I tried to emulate his style of play.
When Modano retired from the NHL in 2011, I was reminded how much of the game inspires my life and how important different idols and mentors are, ones who help you take a larger look at life.