What a difference a pick makes...

Trevor Linden could have ended up being the captain of the Dallas PrettyDamnGoods...

Once people get past the fact that hockey is being played in a state dominated by fantastic steak houses, BBQ, country music and oil money (oh, don’t forget the Dallas Cowboys), they actually realize that the Stars have been a fairly successful little hockey franchise.

And if you had to point to one moment that made (or conversely, could have broken) the Stars in Dallas, just look at what the then-North Stars did with their No.1 pick in 1988. After some debate, the Stars rolled the dice with little Mikey Modano instead of the safer pick of Trevor Linden.

This great article inspired such a chilling thought. You at least need to check out the second photo of Modano, who looks like an '80s teen comedy villain (I can almost hear him screaming "Daaarsh!")

Trevor Linden isn’t chopped liver either – he’s more like barbecued chicken to Mike Modano’s Texas T-Bone (boy, that sentence makes me look gay, but damn it I’m sticking by my steak analogy!!).

It’s impossible to imagine the Stars without Mike Modano.

Would they still even be in Texas if the meat-and-potatoes Linden would have been their pick?

Who would be shagging Willa Ford right now?

Could the Vancouver Canucks have been a dynasty riding high on the unfair abilities of a Modano-Bure-Mogilny line while Mark Messier and the New York Rangers still would be left hunting for that elusive Stanley Cup??

Modano is on the short list of the best American hockey players to ever lace up skates alongside Chris Chelios, Mike Richter, Jeremy Roenick and others. And the Stars are easily one of the most successful American hockey teams outside of Canada and the Northeast. There's more to the Stars success than just that draft pick, but I'd argue that only the Penguins would have been more lost without their superstar Mario Lemieux.

I shudder to think of what I would be writing about right now if not for that draft pick. (Current events…Tim RussertPaul Pierce... ugh)

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So, what are the most important draft picks the other (or perhaps I should say, real) Battle of California teams have made?

I’d love to hear some stories of the good times and the regrettable, not-so-good times.

If I had to venture a guess it would be:

Paul Kariya (Anaheim)

Patrick Marleau (San Jose)

Luc Robitaille (LA).

But I’m all ears... Maybe we can even come to a consensus on the biggest draft-day bust of all the Battle of Californ-ee.

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