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Modano played a big role in that growth down south.
"In hindsight now, it's been a real remarkable transition the way the game has increased down here," Modano said. "I'm real proud of being part of that when it first started and watching it evolve, see the popularity increase. It was great to see and it was fun to be a part of."
Olczyk, a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, is also helping to grow the game now in his high-profile position on television.
"I've just been really lucky throughout my entire career, and I've worn a lot of hats," Olczyk said. "I was a fan, I was a player, I was a coach, broadcaster and a dad, so on any given night, I can have one of those hats on. I love the game, and hockey has been my and my family's life."
That dedication and commitment isn't lost on Modano, a teammate of Olczyk's in international competition.
"Just a class guy, his approach to the game and professionalism," Modano said of Olczyk, his teammate in the 1991 Canada Cup. "He was a lot of fun to be around, so we've always had that connection since 1991. He's been remarkable for the game and on TV, and what he's done with NBC. He's our face and voice of USA Hockey, I feel."
Also on Monday, Bob Chase-Wallenstein and Dick Patrick were presented with the Lester Patrick Trophy. Chase, who made his mark at WOWO -- a 50,000-watt station in Fort Wayne, Ind. -- has had a great impact on the careers of many current sports broadcasters, including Hockey Hall of Famer Mike "Doc" Emrick.
This year marks the 60th straight season that the 86-year-old Chase will do play-by-play on the radio for the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. When he began calling games for the Komets in 1953, the Negaunee, Mich., native was three months removed from college at Northern Michigan.
Dick Patrick is the third member of the Patrick family to earn this award named for his grandfather -- joining uncle Lynn Patrick and cousin Craig Patrick. Dick Patrick has helped hockey grow in the nation's capital during his 30 years with the Washington Capitals.
Murray Costello was honored with the Wayne Gretzky Award for his work that helped the Canadian Hockey Association and the former independent Hockey Canada organization join forces to form the new Hockey Canada in 1994.
After the merger, Canada won four of the next five gold medals at the World Junior Championship with Costello at the forefront. Costello also oversaw the formation of the Canadian women's team and the rapid development of the sport that paved the way for the debut of women's hockey at the 1998 Olympics.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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