Mike Modano

Mike Modano not expecting a totally warm welcome back to Dallas


One of the off-season’s most intriguing twists of fate came from long time Dallas Star Mike Modano. The Stars said they weren’t bringing the 40 year-old Modano back and Modano’s hunt for a new team was on. While many teams didn’t exactly line up for Modano’s services, he did have a choice to make between his home state of Michigan and the Detroit Red Wings and the state where he began his pro career in Minnesota with the Wild.

Modano opted to sign a deal with the Detroit Red Wings and tonight, Modano makes his first trip back to Dallas to face his old team, for whom he played for for 20 years. Emotions are expected to be running high and hot in Dallas but Modano isn’t expecting his reception to be all that accommodating as George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press tells us.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Modano said. “It’s going to be, obviously, a mix of emotions. Nonetheless, looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar people.”

Does he anticipate a positive reception?

“Well, you never know,” Modano said. “They always boo the Red Wings, so I’m guilty by association now. Obviously it’s a little salt in the wound that I’m in Detroit. … I think for the most part it will be pretty positive.”

Babcock said Modano would be in the starting lineup — to give fans a chance to acknowledge him at the start of the game.

“He’s been a great player for them for a long time,” Babcock said. “Didn’t finish there the way he wanted. That’s life. They’ve moved on and so has he. I think they’re going to cheer him like crazy initially, and then they may boo him after that. There will be a ton of respect for him.”

Modano in the starting lineup to have the fans recognize him is, indeed, a nice gesture. Of course, it could turn into a cascade of boos for the one-time Stars face of the franchise. Detroit isn’t well liked in Dallas for a load of different reasons and having Modano end up there after the Stars turned their attention away from him comes off looking especially bad.

The Stars just have to hope that things don’t turn out the way they did in Modano’s last game in Dallas where he scored the winning goal in a shootout. That would be particularly storybook for Modano’s sake, and it would likely make his wife Willa Ford particularly pleased.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado