More Than Hockey on His Mind
Modry, up for Masterton Trophy, dealing with father's illness
Wednesday, 03.19.2008 / 11:48 AM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com
|Despite being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Jaroslav Modry remains the Los Angeles Kings' Masterton nominee because of the impact he had on Los Angeles. Watch Jaroslav Modry highlight video|
Modry's 63-year-old father is suffering from inoperable colon cancer.
"It really hurts because he was always a big, strong man and now he's become really fragile, so it's obviously hurting me to see him like that," Modry told NHL.com. "He's my dad; he gave me everything. He brought me to the hockey rinks when I was eight. I realize this is part of life and we just try to make the most out of every day he has. All I can do is try and offer support and provide some energy to keep him upbeat every day. He should be enjoying his age right now; enjoying his life."
Modry, who was traded to the Flyers by the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 19, is dedicating his season to dad by playing the game hard and, at times, providing encouragement to whomever may need it. He last visited his father, also named Jaroslav, in December.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.
A grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.
The trophy was first presented by the NHL Writers' Association in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited, to a high degree, the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, after an injury sustained during a hockey game.
True to his word, Modry is following in dad's footsteps. At the time of his trade to the Flyers, the Kings were in last place in the Western Conference, but Modry somehow managed a plus-2 rating through 61 games. The veteran of 13 seasons has been nominated for this season's Masterton Trophy for his ability to play the game at such a high level despite his situation back home.
"It's a great honor to be nominated and shows that I must have did something right out there," Modry said. "I must have showed them that my presence and hard work made a difference."
Modry has also become a calming influence along the blue line for the Flyers in his 11 games since the trade, averaging a little more than 18 minutes and 23.5 shifts per game.
"Jaroslav is a thinking man's player out there," Flyers winger Mike Knuble said. "He's not very loud and demanding, but a very smart hockey player. I never met him before he came to the Flyers, but that's something you notice right away."
Modry has always enjoyed the camaraderie among teammates in the dressing room.
"When you lay it out on the line, you are also playing for the guy right next to you," Modry said. "When you look into your teammates' eyes, you want to be able to say that you will go all out every single time you step on the ice. I want him to know I am battling for him as much as I'm battling for myself. It's just the greatest feeling in the world when, after a victory, you can sit in the locker room with your teammates, all beat up, and realize this is what it's all about. It sounds funny, but money can't buy that feeling."
Modry, who was a father-figure to rookie defenseman Jack Johnson in Los Angeles, is now becoming a valuable mentor in Philadelphia.
"You can't play this game without passion and, personally, I don't know how much longer I'm even going to be playing," Modry said. "For me, every game and every practice is always special. Whenever I step on the ice, I look at it like this is the day and this is my challenge and I'll try and enjoy the moment. I take great pride in preparation and even teaching the young kids to respect the game. That's the way I was taught so that's the only way I know how to play."
Modry, 37, met his U.S.-born wife, Jodi, while playing in the minor leagues and they have three children; Jacob, 9, Alexa, 7, and Luc, 4. They also own a home in the Czech Republic and dad makes it a point to take his children there each summer to spend time with their grandparents and learn the heritage and, perhaps, a few of life's lessons that have transformed him into the positive influence he is today.