If legendary Stars forward Mike Modano decides to keep playing next season it is a matter that the Dallas Stars will not be concerning themselves with. The Stars announced today that they will not be offering Mike Modano a new contract. Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk had this to say about the matter:
“Mike is unclear on whether he will retire or not, and still may decide to play next season. After assessing our roster and where we need to go as a hockey team, we have decided to not offer Mike a contract and allow him to explore free agency on July 1. If Mike decides that he would like to play with another team, we support his wishes. That’s part of the reason behind the timing of this announcement; we wanted to be up-front with Mike and give him the option to explore playing for other clubs on July 1 if he chooses.”
We mentioned here the other day that Modano has already spoken about where he might be interested in going to next, and that short list included all the other teams in the Pacific Division. As for the Stars, they’re making it clear that getting younger is the reason why they’re parting ways with Modano. The Stars also have to put a lot of their focus this off-season on getting some of those young players signed in James Neal, Matt Niskanen, and Nicklas Grossman. Nieuwendyk explains further:
“We have a good number of young guys who are hungry and ready for bigger roles on our team. That’s a big part of this decision. These players are ready to step up and play important minutes. We need them to continue their improvement and development if we are to get to where we want to be as a hockey club.”
I’m sure this is a tough stand for the Stars to make as Modano has spent his entire career with the organization and just parting ways like this with a guy who is bound for the hall of fame has to be hard. At the very least we’re spared a sort of Brett Favre-like drama between the two sides as they dance around the possibilities of staying or going and driving the fans crazy in the process. Now we’ll wait to see if or when Modano lands with another team in the Stars’ divisional backyard.