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Modin’s power lights the lamp at 102.1 mph

Lightning player is first forward to win hardest shot competition.

[AP photo]
Lightning wing Fredrik Modin hit two shots, and both sizzled at more than 100 mph.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001


DENVER -- There was the smack of the stick meeting frozen rubber, and then the gasp of the crowd as the puck hit the net in what seemed a blink of an eye.

Then the confirmation: 102.1 mph.

Lightning left wing Fredrik Modin won the title of fastest gun in the NHL after winning the hardest shot contest at the SuperSkills competition Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, beating Detroit's Sergei Fedorov by 1.4 mph.

Modin, 26, who will play for the World All-Stars in today's game against North America, is the first Lightning player to win a SuperSkills event. He won $2,500.

"There's no secret to it," Modin said in an ESPN interview on the ice. "Have a big breakfast and go out there and rip it."

But when asked later in the locker room what he ate Saturday morning, Modin laughed and said, "I didn't have a breakfast this morning."

The real key, Modin said, was to keep the shot low.

"That way, you get a few extra mph out of it."

Modin's first shot was 101.5 mph. His second, 102.1, matched the speed he achieved in December at the Lightning's SuperSkills competition.

Still, Modin, who was named to his first all-star team after fans voted for the starters, found being one of the league's elite isn't all slapshots and TV spots.

First, he was given jersey No. 34 instead of the No. 33 he wears for Tampa Bay. That went to the Kings' Ziggy Palffy.

Then, a teen-age reporter from a children's television network mispronounced his name (Mr. Moe-din instead of Moe-deen) before asking him how hockey players can possibly go to the bathroom during games considering all the equipment they wear.

(FYI: "You have to take it all off," Modin said, "and it takes a while.")

And we won't even get into why the Lightning made the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, Tampa Bay's sixth all-star, squeeze into a coach seat instead of flying him first class to Denver.

"And my back's a little stiff today," he said.

Modin was joking, of course.

"Just being here," he said, "is great."

Modin felt great when he hit the ice for Saturday's practice and was put on a line with former Maple Leafs teammate Mats Sundin. It was even better when Stars wing Brett Hull called Modin one of the NHL's next stars.

"I don't even know what to think," said Modin, who leads Tampa Bay with 24 goals. "It's flattering to hear that kind of stuff. I don't know what to say more than that."

"He didn't fade with the pressure," Sundin said of Modin's victory. "I knew it. It's great to see him go to Tampa and have a great year and the opportunity to be an All-Star."

Modin said he never expected to be named to the team. Funny what a pace of nearly 40 goals will do for your reputation, especially when your previous career high was 22.

Modin's big shot has been a constant, even as a kid back in Sundsvall, Sweden, where he fired pucks at the garage door of his parents' house.

"My dad wasn't very happy about that," Modin said. "I had to help him paint the garage door a few times."

Selected by the Leafs in the third round (64th overall) of the 1994 draft, Modin never found his footing in Toronto. He had 16 goals in 1997-98 and 1998-99, but he was demoted to the fourth line and finally was sent to the Lightning on Oct. 1, 1999 for defenseman Cory Cross.

The Lightning offered consistent playing time and a chance to join the power play. He responded with his best goal production. "I'm not looking back in that sense," Modin said.

As for wearing a different number, Modin said it doesn't matter.

"This is something you remember the rest of your life," he said. "If I had a jersey without a number, I'd be happy."

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