Mike Modano

Will Mike Modano end his NHL career as a healthy scratch?


People like storybook endings, but reality often paints a different picture. After all, not everyone can be John Elway, the Hall of Fame NFL quarterback who finished his career with two consecutive Super Bowl wins.

If the Detroit Red Wings end up getting swept by the San Jose Sharks tonight, it’s unlikely that future Hall of Fame center Mike Modano will be in the lineup. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock indicated that Detroit wouldn’t make any lineup changes, which means Modano will probably remain a healthy scratch.

Even if the Red Wings win another game (or four) and Modano finds himself skating in the 2011 playoffs, it’s tough to shake the sinking suspicion that his time in Detroit will place him in an unflattering group in sports history. Modano seems poised to join the Sports Stars Who Stayed Too Long and Wore the Wrong Uniform Club. He’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with Michael Jordan looking old as dirt in a Washington Wizards jersey, Emmitt Smith running like molasses with the Arizona Cardinals and plenty of other just-wrong moments in sports.

Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but it didn’t take an expert to see that last season was his perfect send-off. He received a rousing, tear-jerking ovation from Stars fans in his last game in Dallas and came full circle in Minnesota. Modano even showed glimpses of the player who once sold hockey to Texans and became one of the greatest American-born hockey stars ever in those last two games.

Instead, he chose to give it another go, but the 41-year-old forward’s 2010-11 season has been depressing. Modano was ineffective in 40 regular season games with Detroit before a freakish skate injury kept him on the shelf. Now he finds himself on the bench and with good reason. He simply doesn’t “have it” anymore.

So, the question is, did he make a mistake by playing another season?

Most people will say yes, but I’m not so sure. Armchair experts always decry athletes for staying too long, but it must be terrifying to face the end of your career before you’ve even reached mid-life crisis time. Why begrudge a great player for clinging to that job a little too long, just so they know that it’s truly gone?

It didn’t go well for Modano, but now he can retire without the nagging question “Do I still have something left?” He’ll hang up his skates with a Stanley Cup ring, more than 1,300 career points and a drop-dead gorgeous wife.

Something tells me he still comes out ahead even if he ruined his riding off in the sunset moment.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.