Sometimes it just takes a highly-talented player to talk about players for it to finally sink in that they are very good.
During Saturday’s broadcast of the Minnesota Wild game against the San Jose Sharks, in a little segment on Bally Sports North, American hockey legend Mike Modano talked about what sets apart the top forwards in the NHL from the rest.
“A real hidden message between top-end talent players is that they love practicing, they love working at their craft. It’s not a fluke that they’re at the level of skill they are at,” Modano said.
In relation back to the Wild, Modano touched on both Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala—what makes them different and how they approach the entire game.
“You know, obviously, you do have some talent that is in your DNA, but what you do with that, really separates good players [from] high-end great players,” he continued.
“Especially those two guys; I think that’s what [is different] with Kaprizov, talking about his ability, is just how hard he works and practices. I mean, the kid never quits. He’s hunting down pucks in the game, second or third efforts, he’ll go back and try to steal it again, he seems to never quit on the puck.”
We have seen so many instances of Kaprizov’s unrelenting pressure—forcing turnovers, stripping away pucks, making defensemen weak in the knees with him storming down the ice with a head full of steam. It’s become a common attribute to his game.
“To do the shot, the skillset, the skating that Kaprizov does,” he continued, “is really cutting edge stuff. No one has seen that before. It’s kind of a new thing the last three or four years that guys have worked on in the offseason; is just trying to get in on these turns and come out of the corners while keeping your speed.
“Usually we go in there, stop, push and shove a little bit and then hopefully something happens and you bounce out. But these guys, they kind of cut in there, keep the puck, keep their speed; they come out the front and they got shots. It’s really neat to watch, but certainly...these two have been a real bright spot so far.”
And while Fiala isn’t as tenacious on the puck, he does possess incredible abilities, as Modano continues his praises.
“And same with Fiala, he’s not scared, he doesn’t play scared,” he said. “He tries to beat guys like he tries to go after guys and is not afraid to make a play. He’s elusive. He gets some separation, he gives himself some time to make a pass, or get a shot off, but he can get it off in a tight area. Nothing is better than playing with a high-end winger, trust me, I’ve had a few that made me look better on nights that I shouldn’t have.”
Sometimes it’s just nice to hear praises of your favorite players from your favorite team from someone that has been around and around again. Not to take every single sentence to heart, but Modano touched on a lot of aspects that makes those two electric players stand out from the rest.