Plenty of Hall of Fame players spent the vast majority of their careers with one team, only to leave – and look just wrong – in a different uniform for a season or two.
Most of the time, those situations didn’t end up very pretty for anyone involved. For every instance in which a player makes their former clubs eat crow (see: Jerry Rice’s resurgence with the Oakland Raiders), there are several minor disasters. Off the top of my head, here are some obvious examples of ugly changes of scenery.
- Emmitt Smith grinding it out with the Arizona Cardinals.
- Patrick Ewing being ineffective the Seattle Sonics and Orlando Magic; Hakeen Olajuwon spending his last season with the Toronto Raptors.
- Finally, for more “vintage” examples: Johnny Unitas wearing a Chargers uniform and Bobby Orr’s final days with Chicago Blackhawks.
For Dallas Stars fans, Mike Modano’s final season was even worse than those examples because he suited up with one of the team’s most hated rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. When this first happened, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was chastised for “running Modano out of town,” which was absurd since the team probably stuck with their franchise player for at least 1-2 seasons beyond his usefulness. (That much was made clear by a flop of a final season in Detroit in which Modano scored just 15 points in 40 games.)
Either way, it was sad that Modano left the game with a whimper, especially after his rousing final game with the Stars. On the bright side, the Stars announced that they “signed” Modano to a one-day contract today. In a rather adorable gesture, the “amount” of the contract will be $999,999, an ode to Modano’s number 9. (The Stars won’t have to pay him anything since he retired.)
“This is a special day for all of us,” said Nieuwendyk. “Mike Modano will always be the face of this franchise. He means so much to our organization and all of our fans. We wanted to give him the opportunity to retire as a Dallas Star. Mike has given his heart and soul to this game for over 30 years. On behalf of the entire organization and the National Hockey League, we would like to thank him for his dedication.”
The one-day contract for a beloved franchise star is a heart-warming and time-honored gesture. Relating back to those previous examples of players suiting up with new teams in awful ways, Smith and Rice were among the greats who signed one-day contracts upon retirement with the franchises they had been inextricably linked to.
Considering Modano’s impact on the Stars franchise – and USA Hockey in general – it’s great to see this happen. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Modano becomes a member of the team’s front office in the near future, if he decides to go in that direction.
Speaking of Modano’s importance to the Stars, we’ll leave you with the franchise records he holds, via the team.
Games Played: 1,459
Overtime goals: 9
Penalty Shots: 4
Goals in a season by a center: 50 (1993-94)
Hat tricks in a season: 3 (1998-99) – tied w/4
Power play goals: 156
Shorthanded goals: 29
Even-strength goals: 372
Game-winning goals: 92
Most 20-Goal Seasons: 16
Most 30-Goal Seasons: 9
Power play assists: 331
Highest +/- in a season: +43 (1996-97)
Playoff Games: 174
Playoff Goals: 58
Playoff Assists: 87
Playoff Points: 145