It’s not the most surprising news of the offseason, but it looks like Mike Modano may have reached the end of his playing days. Even though it seemed like the perfect time for Modano to hang ‘em up at the end of the 2009-10 season with the Dallas Stars, he felt like he still had a little bit left in the tank. He put his chips in the pot for one more go-around with the Detroit Red Wings instead of retiring with the Stars in a scene straight out of Hollywood. Things couldn’t have gone worse.
In an injury-plagued season with the Red Wings, Modano had 4 goals and 11 assists in only 40 games last year. In November, he suffered a gruesome injury to his wrist that cost him the next three months of the season. Even in the games where he was available to head coach Mike Babcock, he still only averaged 12:26 minutes per game. For a point of reference, the former #1 overall pick played 15 seconds less per game than Patrick Eaves. Needless to say, he wasn’t exactly Babcock’s “go to” guy.
In a radio interview on The Ticket 1310 in Dallas, Modano talked about the some of the difficulties he encountered with the Red Wings last season:
“When I came back in March, there’s the heated race for the playoffs, the lineup is almost solidified. [Wings coach Mike] Babcock is pretty hard-headed when he likes something and it works. It’s very hard to change his mind, so I knew I was going to be the odd-man out for the playoffs.”
Modano explained in the same interview playing near his hometown was something that he felt like he had to try before he retired:
“I would have really kicked myself if I didn’t take the chance to go there, play in Detroit, play with those players, and be around them daily. Kenny Holland was great, the coaches were great, the Ilitches. Playing in front of the family, being around them all winter long was great. I saw the parents twice a week. I thought if I didn’t do it, I could say I tried it, at least I could say I did it.”
I guess it’s true: you can never go home. Thomas Wolfe would be proud.
This time last season, there was a bit of a bidding war between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks for the 20-year veteran’s services. When Detroit acquired his services, it seemed like the quintessential Red Wings move: talented veteran accepts reduced role at a cheap price in Detroit for a chance to go out on top.
Fast-forward to this season and it’s a much different situation. There aren’t any teams knocking down his door clamoring for his services. In fact, there isn’t even an aura around his possible retirement. Whether he decides to give the NHL one last shot or take leap into retirement, the NHL community should give the man the respect that his career deserves. He’s scored more goals and points than any American-born player in the history of the NHL. His 813 assists and 1,499 games played rank second on the all-time American list. Statistically speaking, he’s easily the best American-born player in the history of the NHL (note: Brett Hull was born in Belleville, Ontario).
Hopefully he gets the respect he deserves if this is the end of the line.