Mike Modano could be playing his final game tonight in the place where it all began more than 20 years ago. When the Stars take on the Minnesota Wild later on we could be witnessing the end of an era.
Modano, who was the first overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, moved with the team to Dallas in 1993 and has been one of the NHLs most prolific scorers over the past 20-plus years. He has yet to make a final decision, but all indications point to this being his last season.
Turning 40 this summer, if Modano decides to hang up his skates he will leave as the highest scoring American player of all time and a sure-fire hall of famer. Over the course of his career there have not been many players to carry themselves with more class and dignity.
Quite simply one of the best skaters ever, most Stars will remember him for his trademark rushes down the wing as his jersey flapped in the breeze.
Modano should be thought of in the same category as a Steve Yzerman or Joe Sakic, one of the last franchise players that stuck with the team that drafted him through thick and thin. Much like Yzerman and Sakic, he was also great at adapting his game in the twilight of his career. Often times he converted into a penalty killer or checking role to give younger players an opportunity to develop.
His contributions go much deeper then what he produced on the ice, however. Modano has been a pioneer for selling the game in non-traditional hockey markets south of the border. Having an American-born superstar certainly helped convert many Texans to the game of hockey. Hockey has thrived in Dallas, where no one thought it could, and this has given hope to other franchises that they can share similar success.
If this is indeed his final game it would be somewhat of a storybook ending.
In the Stars final home game on Thursday night against Anaheim, Modano scored the tying goal in the dying minutes to force overtime. Then in the shootout, in typical Modano fashion, he raced down the ice and ripped the winning goal top corner. The Stars fans then gave him an emotional send off that no one will soon forget.
Tonight in Minnesota it will be a time for reflection as it is perhaps the curtain call for Modano.
If that is indeed the case, on behalf of hockey fans everywhere, thanks for the memories, Mike.