Guerin supports Modano in wake of criticism

Updated: February 28, 2006, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

FRISCO, Texas -- Mike Modano, maligned for blasting USA Hockey after a disappointing finish at the Torino Games, has at least one supporter in Olympic and Dallas Stars teammate Bill Guerin.

Modano was widely criticized for speaking out after the U.S. lost to Finland and finished 1-4-1 in the Olympics. He said USA Hockey failed to take care of travel and accreditation needs of players' families, suggesting that the administration could use some "new blood."

"He stuck his neck out there and said something uncomfortable for him to say and definitely uncomfortable for people to hear," Guerin said Tuesday. "In the end, Mike spoke the truth. We had to deal with a lot of other issues along with worrying about the game."

Modano apologized last week for the tone and timing of his comments, but the Stars captain didn't take back any of what he said when he returned to his team Tuesday.

"Everybody talked about wanting to do it," he said. "To sit there and hear what they are going through for two weeks, it shouldn't have been that type of experience. There's where I had enough and decided to say something about it.

"Now that I'm out there [with comments], everybody is letting me do the talking. If you ask them, maybe they might agree. I don't think any of them would disagree. If I didn't care, I wouldn't have said anything."

Modano understands he is being labeled a pampered athlete rather than the quiet leader whose fortitude carried him through the 1999 Stanley Cup finals with a broken wrist.

"If I didn't care and USA Hockey didn't mean a lot to me, I would have just skated off and they never would have heard from me again," he said. "I haven't turned my back on USA Hockey. I want it to be better, to be a better experience for people. If it does help, that's great. If not, that's their problem then."

Guerin says criticism of his teammate was unfair.

"It's ridiculous how big this has gotten," he said. "It was never an excuse of how things went on the ice. I feel bad for Mike because his name is being dragged through the mud, and he doesn't deserve that."

Modano, who scored two goals for Team USA, was also upset at being benched in the third period against Finland, which lost to Sweden in the gold-medal game.

Among the top American-born players, Modano helped the U.S. reach the gold-medal game before losing to Canada in the Salt Lake City Games four years ago. He thought this year's team could go at least that far.

"We thought we had a great team," said Modano, who at 35 is unlikely to return for a fourth Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. "We had a great bunch of guys. We've all had success together."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press