We know we’ve talked a lot about this summer’s other free agent saga. You know, the one involving a 40 year-old future hall of famer, not the Russian mega-star on the brink of supreme financial freedom. I’m talking, of course, about Mike Modano. Today, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock poured some gasoline on the fires that stoke the rumor mill by saying what he thought Mike Modano was going to do.
“This is a no brainer for Mike Modano — the highest scoring American player of all time to come back to your hometown, play in Hockeytown,” Babcock told NHL.com Friday. “It’s not about the cash, it’s about the legacy and the fit. He’ll fit and he’ll be excited to play. I look forward to him signing. I think that’s inevitable. I think that’s what is going to happen.”
Babcock, of course, was smart enough to leave himself an out, just in case.
“I think this is all going to work out; I’m pretty certain of that for us, but I’ve been around before and if you would have told me Jiri Hudler was leaving for Russia, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “I’ve been wrong. Some people think I have the market cornered on being wrong.”
Well then. If Babcock thinks it’s as good as a done deal, that’s great then. We’re all settled then and can wrap this one up, right? Not so fast.
He doesn’t expect Modano to decide until Aug. 1 — at the earliest.
So you’d have to figure it’ll just be a one-year victory tour kind of thing for Modano. What say you, Mike Babcock?
“I think we’re a good fit for him and I think he knows it,” Babcock said. “I know the veteran players we have dealt with over the years, so I’m a big believer if Mike Modano comes to Detroit he won’t be here for one year, he’ll play for two.”
A two-year commitment for a 40 year-old player is a huge commitment considering that any deal signed by a player 35 years-old or older stays on the cap no matter what, even in the case of a career-ending injury. There’s no doubt that Babcock and the Red Wings organization smells blood in the water this off-season, especially when discussing their division-mates from Chicago so why not seize the day and go for the gusto.
The catch here is that while the Red Wings are jockeying very hard to get Modano, they’ve still got a couple of restricted free agents to get back into the fold and not a ton of cap space to get it taken care of. Forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm still await new deals, and if there’s a player that other teams in need of a fast, defensive forward to play third line minutes might be after it’s Helm. Not that another team would make Helm an offer that would cause the Wings to not match it, nor would Helm command that sort of money anyhow but it is a concern nonetheless.
Obviously there’s still time to see how this will play out, but Babcock’s insistence is rather telling of how their meetings with Modano went.