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.

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
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ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?