Burke bringing Modano back to Team USA ahead of Vancouver 2010

WOODRIDGE, Ill. — After the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, it looked like Mike Modano had burned his bridges with the U.S. Olympic hockey team with some searing comments about USA Hockey after a 4-3 loss to Finland in the quarter-finals.

WOODRIDGE, Ill. — After the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, it looked like Mike Modano had burned his bridges with the U.S. Olympic hockey team with some searing comments about USA Hockey after a 4-3 loss to Finland in the quarter-finals.

Modano is not only back, but general manager Brian Burke is counting on the 39-year-old Dallas Stars great to be a leader and a mentor for what should be the youngest American squad in two decades at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Burke made it clear that the team selection committee did not invite Modano to its Olympic team summer orientation camp simply as a courtesy for the all-time leader in goals and points by an American-born player.

”He’s here legitimately,” Burke said Monday as the three-day camp opened at Seven Bridges Arena in a Chicago suburb. ”There wasn’t any debate over whether we bring him or if he’s over the hill. He’s here legitimately as a hockey player.

”If you try to identify the greatest American players ever, if he’s not the first name, he’s going to be the second. He’s one of the great players we’ve ever had in the NHL. His role has changed, his ice time and power-play time have diminished, but he’s accepted that gratefully and he still performs at a very high level.”

The Americans have invited 34 players to three days of drills and team bonding exercises as a first step in preparation for the Games in February. Canada will have 10 more at its camp next week in Calgary.

The U.S. promises to be a youthful squad. Forwards Patrick Kane and Kyle Okoso, were born in 1988, the year Modano was selected first overall in the draft by the Minnesota North Stars, who later became the Dallas Stars.

Most weren’t born when the United States performed its Miracle on Ice victory over the Soviet Union that led to gold at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.

”We’re likely going to be the youngest team in the field,” added Burke.

Even with Modano. Should the Livonia, Minn., native make the team, he will have played in all four Olympics that had full participation of NHL players, from 1998 in Nagano, Japan, to a silver medal behind Canada’s gold in 2002 at Salt Lake City and a disappointing performance in 2006 in Turin.

That was the swan song for what was left of a group of Americans, including Modano, who had been part of U.S. national teams since its stunning victory over Canada at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

And it sounded like the end when Modano blasted USA Hockey for subjecting the players to too many distractions, including leaving them on their own to book flights and find tickets for family and friends, for instance. He said at the time that the organization needed ”new blood.”

Modano now says he should have kept quiet.

”You get caught up in the heat of the moment and you’re frustrated and the first people you see are the media and you don’t have time to calm down and breathe,” he said. ”Obviously, my first reaction was to lash out and say some things that I wish I wouldn’t have said a couple of days later.

”But you still feel lucky to be here and keep getting invited back.”

The other veterans in camp include defenceman Brian Rafalski, forwards Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner and goalie Ryan Miller.

It is not a team packed with offensive stars, and players like Kane, Zach Parise and Paul Stastny are likely to lead the attack.

But Burke and head coach Ron Wilson, the same tandem that runs the Toronto Maple Leafs, are counting on strong team play to make the difference.

New Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek was looking forward to becoming acquainted with his potential Olympic teammates.

Off-ice plans for the week include a trip to a Chicago White Sox game, a players’ dinner and daily contact with members of the U.S. Navy Seals who were involved in fighting in Afghanistan.

”A lot of us play against each other and to come to camp and build some camaraderie, build some trust, get to know each other off the ice, ” he said. ”That will help us tremendously in Vancouver.”

Just Posted

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

FREDERICTON — Police have released the Fredericton apartment complex that was the… Continue reading

Police seek public’s help after East Coast lobster thieves strike again

SAINT-SIMON, N.B. — There has been another crustacean caper on the East… Continue reading

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising a first under new Saskatchewan law

SASKATOON — A court hearing related to money raised following the Humboldt… Continue reading

Weed’s want ads longer, marijuana job searches up as industry grows: study

OTTAWA — The growth of Canada’s soon-to-be-legal recreational pot industry is starting… Continue reading

Google Generation’s push for more technology transforming health care: survey

TORONTO — Digitally savvy Canadians who make up the Google Generation are… Continue reading

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Keep bribes quiet for 10 years, FIFA won’t punish you

LONDON — FIFA has officially eradicated corruption. All it took was pressing… Continue reading

Beyoncé honours ailing Aretha Franklin at Detroit concert

DETROIT — Queen Bey dedicated her performance with husband, Jay Z, to… Continue reading

‘Outlaw King’ to open Toronto film fest; ‘Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy’ to close

TORONTO — The world premiere of David Mackenzie’s “Outlaw King,” starring Chris… Continue reading

Male model convicted of murdering rival after online feud

LONDON — A British fashion model has been convicted of murdering a… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month