No one is a winner: Thoughts on today's Mike Modano news

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Modano7.jpgI’ve held off from commenting on this subject today, because I feel
that perhaps I’d be too emotionally vested in the story to be as
objective as possible.

That didn’t last very long, however, as I
have to share my thoughts on the subject. I’ll be as brief as I can, and
try not to let my emotions get in the way.

There’s no doubting that Mike Modano is the reason I became a
hockey fan. When hockey first came to North Texas, Modano was the face
of the franchise and the player used to sell the sport to the locals. He
was good looking, he was charismatic, and he was an incredible player.

I’m
not going to go into a Mike Modano career retrospective, but there are
countless moments throughout his moments that will always stick in my
mind.

After watching how the Dallas Stars fans gave Modano such a
great send-off at the end of the season, I internally hoped with all I
had that Modano would decide to retire. That it would be his decision,
that he would make the decision as quickly as he could, and that moment
at the AAC is what we all remember.

Instead, Modano took his time
making a decision and the Stars were forced to act. It wasn’t the most
desirable outcome, but one we all knew was coming. The sense coming from
the Stars at the end of the season and the past few months was that
Dallas would be moving on without Modano, and now that the day is here
it’s a tough, tough pill to swallow.

Fans are wont to blame Joe
Nieuwendyk or the ownership situation, but there’s plenty of
responsibility for this to go around — including with Mike Modano. He
certainly deserves the chance to make his own decision on whether to
return to playing hockey or not, but he put the team in a tough
situation by not making a decision over the past few months. With free
agency looming, Nieuwendyk was forced to make the hardest decision of
his short tenure and be the first to act.

We knew this was coming,
but today the Stars made it official — no matter what, Mike Modano
will not be with the Dallas Stars next season.

Talking
to ESPN Dallas
, Modano said that he’s disappointed in the decision
finally being made:

“I always thought there would be an outside
chance of something
happening here,” Modano told ESPN Dallas on Tuesday afternoon. “The
dialogue that Joe and I have had going on for about a month and a half
led me to believe I needed to prepare for things not happening. But when
it’s here and reality sets in, it’s disappointing. I didn’t think it
would happen. I was told some years ago that I’d be able to decide when I
wanted to stop playing. But that was verbally and things change.”

He would go on to say, that even now, he’s still unsure of
whether he wants to play next season. With the ownership situation in
flux and the team facing tough financial restrictions, Joe Nieuwendyk
had to be the first to act.

Brad
Gardner at Defending Big D
called it a “lose-lose” situation, and
there’s no other way to put it. The Stars at some point had to move
forward, even if Mike Modano is still a capable player. Nieuwendyk is
having to do some incredible spin-control with this, doing his best to
publicly praise Modano and invite him back. This is one of those cases
where it was purely a business decision, but one that felt entirely too
personal for every Stars fan out there.

Some fans were calling
today’s decision “classless” by the Stars, and that there was a better
way to go about it. The team put together an incredible tribute to
Modano at the end of the season and spearheaded perhaps the best final
game with a team a player has ever had. Short of launching a parade and
unveiling a Mike Modano statue in Frisco, there wasn’t going to be much
the team could do to make this look any better.

No matter how you
feel about, there is no doubting this: this is truly the end of an era
as Mike Modano, after 20 years with the team that drafted him, will no
longer be with the Dallas Stars as a player. As a hockey fan and a Dallas Stars fan, that thought makes me incredibly sad and emotional.

No more one-timers from the circle.

No more jerseys waving in the wind behind him.

No more of that customary smile we see when he scores, or the determination we see on his face when things get tough.

No more #9.

Flames say there’s still ‘no real update’ on contract talks with RFA forwards Monahan, Gaudreau

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 7: Johnny Gaudreau #13 (L) of the Calgary Flames confers with his teammate Sean Monahan #23 during a break in play against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 7, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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NHL training camps open in September and although most teams have done the bulk of their off-season tweaking, there’s still at least one team that has some serious work to do.

The Calgary Flames are still working on signing forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to contract extensions. Both players are currently restricted free agents.

“No real update there,” said general manager Brad Treliving, per the Calgary Herald.  “We’ll continue to work away at it.”

The Flames have just under $15 million in cap space remaining, according to General Fanager. There’s a good chance both RFA forwards will take a deep bite into those remaining dollars.

Monahan already said he’d be willing to take less money to get a deal done, but that doesn’t mean he’ll come cheap. The 21-year-old scored 58 goals and 125 points in 162 games over the last two seasons.

As for Gaudreau, he’ll cost a pretty penny as well. The 22-year-old is coming off a season in which he scored 30 goals and 78 points in 79 games.

Here’s an excerpt from the Herald regarding these two players:

With 11 weeks until the regular season begins, here is what we know:

• Both players are restricted free agents and received qualifying offers from the Flames earlier this month. Talks are ongoing.

• Both are expected to receive whopping raises.

• Both are seeking long-term contracts, expressing that they’d like to play together for the foreseeable future.

• Both could be getting paid in the neighbourhood of between $6-million and $7.5-million for between six and eight years (if you use the com parables of Vladimir Tarasenko, Filip Forsberg, Seth Jones, Aleksander Barkov, and Nathan MacKinnon).

Thankfully for Calgary, they’ve done a decent job of managing their roster and the cap. Gaudreau and Monahan are the only two players on the roster that still need new contracts. The rest of the team is locked up for at least one more year.

Edmonton will have a captain by opening night, says McLellan

Todd McLellan
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After going without a captain last season, the Oilers will have someone wearing the “C” in 2016-17.

“Will we have a captain? Yeah, we will,” head coach Todd McLellan said on Wednesday, per the Oilers’ website. “We will have a captain.”

The last player to serve as captain in Edmonton was Andrew Ference, who inherited the position from Shawn Horcoff in ’13 and held it for two seasons.

Last year, the veteran blueliner appeared in just six games, and underwent season-ending hip surgery. He was in no position to serve in the club’s leadership group and, ergo, the Oilers opted to play without a captain.

So… who will be next to wear the “C?”

Most are thinking about Connor McDavid. Though he’s not publicly campaigning for the role, the 19-year-old did say it would “be one of the greatest honors. ” Though he missed significant time to injury last year, McDavid still enthralled Oilers fans with a rookie campaign that saw him rack up 48 points in 45 games, finishing as a Calder Trophy finalist.

Of course, there will be others in the mix.

Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Matt Hendricks have all served as alternates in Edmonton, and Hendricks captained the U.S. at this year’s world championships. There’s definitely some leadership to choose from, and it’s worth noting Eberle is one of the most vested veterans in Edmonton, having appeared in 425 games over the last six seasons.

Oilers’ Yakimov going back to KHL — this time, on loan

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Bogdan Yakimov #39 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Bogdan Yakimov is on his way back to Russia.

On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they’ve loaned Yakimov to KHL club Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, the same team he joined after leaving AHL Bakersfield last season.

The 83rd overall pick in 2013, Yakimov has appeared in one game for the Oilers since getting drafted. He’s spent almost all of his time in North America in the AHL, and didn’t impress the club last year when he bolted the farm team to return to his native land.

“He made a career decision to return to Russia and I’m not sure how he played or how many games he played,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said at the time, per the Edmonton Sun (McLellan was then informed Yakimov was away for 11 games).

“Well, that’s 11 games he didn’t spend with us. During his time away, there were a number of players recalled. I would have preferred to see him in an Oilers uniform and he was real close. Now he has to reset his Oiler clock and get playing again.”

All told, Yakimov played in 36 games with the Condors last season, scoring five goals and 15 points.

At 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, Yakimov has impressive size and is still only 21 years old, so he’s got some value. But it remains to be seen whether he wants to try and push for an NHL career, or opt to stay in the KHL.

 

Max is back: Lapierre to attend Rangers camp on PTO

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 01: Maxim Lapierre #40 talks with Craig Adams #27 of the Pittsburgh Penguins before a face-off during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on April 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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After a year abroad, Maxim Lapierre is getting a shot to rejoin the NHL.

Per TVA, Lapierre has agreed to join the Rangers in training camp on a professional tryout. The news comes after he split last season between Swiss League outfit Lugano and Swedish League side Modo, with midseason rumblings there were NHL teams interested in bringing him back.

In New York, Lapierre will be reunited with Alain Vigneault, his former head coach in Vancouver. Vigneault has brought in a few former Canucks during his time with the Rangers, including Tanner Glass, Nicklas Jensen and Michael Grabner.

Lapierre, 31, last played in the NHL during the ’14-15 campaign, splitting time between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. A known agitator, he finished the year with 11 points in 80 games, and appeared in all five games of the Pens’ opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

Prior to his time in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, “Yappy Lappy” played in Montreal, Anaheim and Vancouver. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored a career-high 15 goals and 28 points, earning a handful of Selke votes.