Book it: Mike Modano to sign with Detroit Red Wings

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Modano3.jpgIt appears that our long, national soap opera of the summer is over.

No, not the one involving Ilya Kovalchuk. Nor is it the one involving Brett Favre, that one just got renewed for another season. It’s the one about a local guy who left home to play in the NHL for 20 years away from home is going back home to close out his career. You didn’t know that one? Sure you did, just under another name.

Mike Modano is going to be a Detroit Red Wing, and you’ll be surprised to hear who it was that helped sell him on the idea of playing for the Red Wings.

Since he couldn’t stay in Dallas and wasn’t ready for retirement, Mike Modano made the logical choice: He’s going home.

The native of suburban Detroit has agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Wings. He confirmed his decision in a text message to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The answer came while playing golf in Scotland with former Dallas teammate Marty Turco, the goaltender who signed with Chicago on Monday.

“It was a lot of back and forth internally, but I ultimately decided I wasn’t ready to hang up the skates so I’m going to Detroit,” Modano told ScoreBoard Monthly, the Dallas sports magazine that first reported the move.

Modano said he spoke with Minnesota and San Jose, but was swayed by discussions with Brett Hull and other former and current Red Wings.

“They all told me what a great organization and city it is to play in,” he said. “And mix in the incredible talent they have playing there and it kind of made my decision for me.”

I can’t imagine what Dallas Stars fans think of this turn of events. After all, it was Hull that played with Dallas and helped win them the Stanley Cup in 1999. Hull later went on to play for the Red Wings and won a Cup there in 2002 but returned to the Stars as a co-general manager only to give up that position to Joe Nieuwendyk. If anyone would know what it’s like to play in Detroit towards the end of their career, it would be Hull.

For Stars fans, however, this choice by Modano isn’t at all comparable to that of Hull’s. While Hull and Modano were keys to winning that Cup in 1999, Hull wasn’t a lifetime-long Dallas Star, Modano is, or rather he was. Modano’s time with the organization goes back to the days in Minnesota as the North Stars playing in Bloomington. Mike Modano has always been a Star and will always be recognized as one. About the only thing that might fuzz up some fans memories would be having Modano lift the Stanley Cup in June 2011 in a Red Wings jersey, a scene that might cause more heartache and anger in Dallas.

If you’re wondering what number he’ll be wearing as a Red Wing, it won’t be 9 as that’s hanging from the rafters of Joe Louis Arena. Instead, Modano will be wearing a different uniform with the number 9 present in it. He’ll be wearing the number 90.

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    Pekka Rinne begins Stanley Cup Final as the Conn Smythe favorite

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    Pekka Rinne enters the Stanley Cup Final as the favorite to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, according to odds released by Bovada.

    No surprise.

    The Predators have gone on a terrific run this postseason, hitting the high expectations laid out for them prior to the start of the season. There have been many reasons for their success this spring, most notably the play of Rinne in goal.

    He started the playoffs with consecutive shutouts versus the Blackhawks and then only gave up three goals in the final two games as Nashville swept Chicago, considered the Stanley Cup favorite when the playoffs began, in the opening round.

    Rinne has continued to roll, with a .941 save percentage throughout the entire playoffs, while Nashville has allowed only 29 goals in 16 games.

    Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are also near the top of that list for the Conn Smythe odds. Crosby is the reigning Conn Smythe winner, while Malkin leads all players with 24 points in 19 playoff games.

    Here are the odds, via Bovada:

    Pekka Rinne    9/4

    Sidney Crosby    5/2

    Evgeni Malkin    7/2

    Matt Murray    9/1

    Filip Forsberg    10/1

    Phil Kessel    10/1

    PK Subban    16/1

    Roman Josi    25/1

    Viktor Arvidsson    33/1

    Ryan Ellis    33/1

    Jake Guentzel    33/1

    Chris Kunitz    33/1

    Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is Monday in Pittsburgh. After winning it all a year ago, the Penguins enter the series as the favorites against the Predators.

    Related: Pekka Rinne has been the backbone for the Predators during run to the final

    Here’s how the Penguins will line up for Game 1

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    PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the Stanley Cup Final for the second year in a row and are looking to become the first team to win it in back-to-back years in two decades.

    Here is a look at how they are expected to lineup on Monday night for the first game of the series.

    Forwards

    Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyConor Sheary
    Scott WilsonEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel
    Bryan RustNick BoninoCarter Rowney
    Jake GuentzelMatt CullenPatric Hornqvist

    This is based on what we saw from the Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Ottawa and based on the practice lines on Sunday. With Patric Hornqvist returning to the lineup on Monday night it is going to come down to Jake Guentzel or Carl Hagelin being the odd man out, and given that Hagelin spent extra time on the ice with the scratches following the morning skate it seems likely he will be the scratch. Guentzel is still the NHL’s playoff leader in goals, but is currently riding an eight-game goal drought.

    The Kunitz-Crosby-Sheary line was assembled in Game 7 and produced two of the Penguins’ three goals in their double overtime win.

    Defense

    Ian ColeJustin Schultz
    Olli MaattaTrevor Daley
    Brian DumoulinRon Hainsey

    While Mike Sullivan has had a tendency to throw his line combinations into a blender during the postseason, his defense pairings have remained relatively consistent as long as he has the same healthy players in the lineup. And they are the ones you see above. Cole and Schultz have spent a significant portion of the season playing alongside one another and have formed a really solid duo. Olli Maatta has had some struggles at times, but over the past couple of weeks has played some of his best hockey in over a year. All of these pairings will get a similar amount of ice time.

    Goalies

    Matt Murray (starter)
    Marc-Andre Fleury (backup)

    Murray has reclaimed his starting spot since returning from injury and has won three of his first four starts while posting a .946 save percentage. He is playing in his second Stanley Cup Final even though he is still considered a rookie in the eyes of the NHL.

    Related: Here’s how the Predators will line up in Game 1

    Here’s how the Predators will line up for Game 1

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    PITTSBURGH — For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators will play in a Stanley Cup Final tonight.

    Here’s how the Preds are expected to look in Game 1 against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena:

     

     

    Forwards

    Filip ForsbergColton SissonsPontus Aberg
    Viktor ArvidssonMike FisherJames Neal
    Colin WilsonCalle JarnkrokCraig Smith
    Frederick GaudreauVernon FiddlerAustin Watson

    The big omission up front is Ryan Johansen, the Preds’ No. 1 center who’s been diagnosed with acute compartment syndrome and won’t play in the final. Kevin Fiala was also lost for the playoffs after getting hurt in the second round.

    Johansen was acquired last year to give the Preds the type of elite center they’d been missing. Obviously, the timing of his injury couldn’t have been much worse.

    “We lost a lot of offense and a big, heavy, strong centerman in Johansen,” said Sissons. “There’s gonna be some big shoes for us to fill.”

    Of note, Wilson was absent from this morning’s skate. If he doesn’t play for whatever reason, expect Cody McLeod to take his spot.

    Defense

    Roman JosiRyan Ellis
    Mattias EkholmP.K. Subban
    Matt Irwin —  Yannick Weber

    This is the strength of Nashville’s roster. Essentially, the Preds have two first pairings at their disposal, and head coach Peter Laviolette deploys them as such.

    Penguins center Evgeni Malkin told reporters yesterday that it’s like the Preds have “four Karlssons,” referring to Josi, Ellis, Ekholm, and Subban.

    That’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s arguably the best top four in the league.

    Goalies

    Pekka Rinne (starter)
    Juuse Saros (backup)

    Rinne has been excellent in these playoffs, compiling a 12-4 record with a .941 save percentage. This after a regular season where his save percentage fluctuated wildly from month-to-month.

    “I think we started off really well (in the playoffs) against Chicago, then you gain some confidence, and personally I was playing well,” Rinne said. “Once that ball starts rolling you feel better and better and things start to go your way. I feel the biggest thing is as a team, for a long time in the regular season we were trying to find consistency and at times we didn’t do a good job. I feel like this postseason we’ve been really consistent and solid and playing really good hockey for 16 games now.”

    Rinne has been so good that Saros has yet to even play a second of the postseason.

    Related: Here’s how the Penguins will line up for Game 1

    Sens GM doesn’t rule out possibility of asking Dion Phaneuf to waive NMC for expansion draft

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    Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion met with reporters on Monday, and quickly made one thing clear heading into the summer: Craig Anderson will be protected from the expansion draft.

    Beyond that, Dorion has a myriad of pending decisions on his plate over the next few weeks — as does every NHL general manager, with the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights approaching.

    While Anderson is going to be protected, Dorion admitted he and his staff are still figuring out who on their roster will gain protection. Those discussions, it appears, will include Dion Phaneuf, the 32 years old defenseman with four more years on his current contract and a hefty cap hit of $7 million.

    Phaneuf scored nine goals and 30 points during this past regular season, and had one goal and five points during the postseason.

    He also has a no-movement clause in his contract, which garners protection from the expansion draft. But there have been rumblings the Sens may ask him to waive that no-movement clause.

    “That’s something we’re going to talk internally (about) in the next few weeks. We know we have quite a few good defensemen,” said Dorion.

    “If we ever end up losing a defenseman, we know we have guys that can come in and replace him. I’m not sure. There’s a lot of discussions to be had. If ever we were to go that direction, I think I should let Dion know first.”

    From the Ottawa Citizen:

    The Senators issues have been well-documented, especially on the back end. Asking veteran defenceman Dion Phaneuf to waive his ‘no-move’ clause to allow the club to protect Marc Methot makes the most sense. The Senators don’t want to lose Phaneuf and the guess is they’d get re-assurance from Vegas they won’t.

    The Senators do have a solid young prospect defenseman in Thomas Chabot, the 18th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, who Dorion singled out as a player that could challenge for a roster spot when training camp opens in September.

    Dorion said he didn’t expect “big radical changes” to this roster next season, but the club also has several players on expiring contracts, including six unrestricted free agents (Viktor Stalberg, Chris Neil, Chris Kelly, Tommy Wingels, Tom Pyatt and Mike Condon).

    They also have some key pending restricted free agents to get under contract, as well. Ryan Dzingel emerged as an every-game player, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored eight times in 19 games during the playoffs, which is only four off from matching his entire goal production from 82 games in the regular season.

    “I will meet personally with Chris Neil and Chris Kelly in the next few weeks to find out what their plans are and if they’re in relation with our plans,” said Dorion.

    Both Kelly and Neil are 36 and 37 years old, respectively, and were used sparingly during the playoffs. Dorion will meet with his staff, including the coaches, to determine a plan for that entire group of unrestricted free agents.

    “They can’t all be back. It’s just a numbers thing. So we have to look at who fits best — our needs, our mock roster, where we need to go,” said Dorion.

    A key decision on that front is likely in net.

    Dorion put the onus on pending UFA goalie Condon, saying he will make him an offer and it’s up to Condon to decide whether he wants to sign it and return to Ottawa next season.

    In the event Condon rejects the offer, Dorion said Andrew Hammond could come back as the No. 2 goalie to Anderson.