If legendary Stars forward Mike Modano decides to keep playing next season it is a matter that the Dallas Stars will not be concerning themselves with. The Stars announced today that they will not be offering Mike Modano a new contract. Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk had this to say about the matter:
“Mike is unclear on whether he will retire or not, and still may decide to play next season. After assessing our roster and where we need to go as a hockey team, we have decided to not offer Mike a contract and allow him to explore free agency on July 1. If Mike decides that he would like to play with another team, we support his wishes. That’s part of the reason behind the timing of this announcement; we wanted to be up-front with Mike and give him the option to explore playing for other clubs on July 1 if he chooses.”
We mentioned here the other day that Modano has already spoken about where he might be interested in going to next, and that short list included all the other teams in the Pacific Division. As for the Stars, they’re making it clear that getting younger is the reason why they’re parting ways with Modano. The Stars also have to put a lot of their focus this off-season on getting some of those young players signed in James Neal, Matt Niskanen, and Nicklas Grossman. Nieuwendyk explains further:
“We have a good number of young guys who are hungry and ready for bigger roles on our team. That’s a big part of this decision. These players are ready to step up and play important minutes. We need them to continue their improvement and development if we are to get to where we want to be as a hockey club.”
I’m sure this is a tough stand for the Stars to make as Modano has spent his entire career with the organization and just parting ways like this with a guy who is bound for the hall of fame has to be hard. At the very least we’re spared a sort of Brett Favre-like drama between the two sides as they dance around the possibilities of staying or going and driving the fans crazy in the process. Now we’ll wait to see if or when Modano lands with another team in the Stars’ divisional backyard.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.