Mike Modano: “I think that was the swan song”

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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.

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Flyers survive early Mason mistake to upset Wild

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Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.

The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.

Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.

Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.

But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.

Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games and were unable to secure a playoff spot Thursday.