Modano the Old Guy on the Olympic Block

Many of the hockey players tearing around on the ice at the U.S. Olympic hockey orientation camp were toddlers when Mike Modano was picked first overall in the 1988 NHL draft by the Minnesota North Stars.

One of them, Patrick Kane, hadn't even been born.

Now 39, Modano is hoping to land a spot on his fourth Olympic team. He's the oldest player in camp. And maybe the wisest, too.

"There is tons of talent. You just hope that somehow, some way you fit in and you can be sort of an impact on the team," Modano said. "Some of the players are fast and quick and you hope you can keep up with them."

Modano got two goals for the U.S. at the Nagano Olympics in 1998, had six assists during a silver Medal finish in 2002 at Salt Lake City and scored two goals in 2006 at Torino, Italy, where the Americans lost in the quarterfinals.

One of Modano's teammates on those Olympics team, 47-year-old Chris Chelios, is serving as an assistant coach during the orientation camp.

"Tons of memories, obviously. Bonds you built with them and playing against them," Modano said, looking back.

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After a 4-3 loss to Finland at Torino, a frustrated Modano criticized USA Hockey, saying the players had been subjected to too many distractions.

On Tuesday, he said some of those comments were made right after the loss and before he had time to gather his emotions.

"I was a little upset. I figured we deserved a little better," Modano said. "So I lashed out at a lot of things. Over time, the smoke settled and you wish you probably could have taken a couple of breaths after the game."

Now he's glad to have another chance at going back to the Olympics, even though U.S. general manager Brian Burke said the three-day orientation session in suburban Chicago is not a tryout camp. The 23-man team will be announced in December.

"It was great getting the call to be part of this from Brian this summer and have an opportunity to be here and in those Olympics," Modano said. "Obviously there is a big change with a lot of the young influx that's coming in."

The average age of the 34 players participating in the three-day camp is 26.2 years, with Kane the youngest.

"Mike Modano is kind of the face of U.S. hockey in my opinion," said Jamie Langenbrunner of the New Jersey Devils, who is 34. "The fact that he's still here is quite amazing. He's quite the player and had quite the career and it's great to see him."

Modano may not be the scoring threat he once was -- he had 46 points and four-game winning goals for the Dallas Stars last season, his 19th in the NHL -- but he's still excited to be in the mix.

"When I first started in Minnesota they were all being born, so there's a little bit of a generation gap there," Modano said. "Still, it's a love for hockey and to compete at the highest level, and it's a big young group and they've got a long road ahead of them, and a bright future for them too."

NOTES: Chelios, who began his Olympic career in 1984, reiterated that he wants to play one more year in the NHL, but would consider Europe or even a minor league team such as the Chicago Wolves. "I'm to the point I'm ready to listen to anybody," he said. Chelios called his assistant coaching stint at the Olympic camp "an internship" and acknowledged it was a bit awkward being in the coach's room but also an honor. ... Modano was slated to throw out an opening pitch at the Royals-White Sox game Tuesday night. ... The campers will have a dinner Wednesday night and hear from Mike Eruzione, the captain of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team that stunned the Soviet Union at Lake Placid en route to winning the gold medal. ... NHLPA head Paul Kelly said the league is still investigating the 12-year contract the Chicago Blackhawks gave to Marian Hossa and a 7-year deal that Chris Pronger got from the Flyers. "I don't see those contracts being undone," Kelly said. "They registered these two contracts and then started an investigation some time later, which seems a bit odd." He said both deals are consistent with the language in the collective bargaining agreement.

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