Modano Seeks Perfect Ending in Motown

Twenty-year NHL veteran Mike Modano has officially joined the Detroit Red Wingson a one-year deal worth $1.25 million.  The 40-year-old will be leaving the Dallas Stars, the franchise with whom he’s spent his entire career.

No matter what the sport, it is strange to see a player who has spent a long career with one organization pull on another team’s jersey. While it will be odd to see Modano wearing the famous Red Wings uniform, he fully deserves this chance to play for one of the class franchises in the NHL and take one more run at the Stanley Cup.

Modano himself has admitted that “it doesn’t seem right” to be playing for anyone but the Stars. Yet, he does seem re-invigorated by the change of scenery.

“I think that it does give me a little fire inside to go out, play somewhere and really have a great going-out year,” the Red Wings new addition said.

This signing could be somewhat reminiscent to how Ray Bourque left the game on top with the Colorado Avalanche. Although it took the legendary defenseman two seasons to do so, the hockey world applauded his exit from the game as Bourque had to endure 1,826 regular season and playoff games before finally lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Modano already has tasted that success in 1999 with the Stars, but his career could be described as somewhat unfulfilled.

As a Minnesota North Star, he faced humiliation during the 1991 Finals, losing to Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins in an 8-0 rout in the closing game six of the series.

After getting their hands on the cup, Modano and the Stars looked to repeat in the 2000 finals, but were defeated by the New Jersey Devils in six games. Losing the closely-contested series was a bitter pill to swallow as the final two games were triple-overtime and double-overtime defeats respectively.

In his last two seasons in Dallas, Modano had been through some lean times. He had been used to contending yearly, but things began to unravel for the franchise. The distractions created by the controversial winger Sean Avery and significant absences of captain Brendan Morrow, Sergei Zubov, and Brad Richards due to injury killed their playoff chances during the 2008-09 season.

It became clear that Tom Hicks’ financial issues limited the Stars’ spending power in 2009-10 as they trimmed their budget to $45 million and the proud club missed out on the playoffs for two consecutive seasons for the first time since their move to Dallas.

Ironically, Modano played his last game for the Stars in Minnesota where he had began his NHL career in 1989.  It was a special night for him as his original fans at the Xcel Energy Center celebrated his career and he returned the favour by coming out after the game wearing an old North Stars jersey.

For Modano, things have come full circle as the Michigan native who grew up just outside of Detroit in nearby Livonia joins the Red Wings. Twice in 1998 and 2008, Modano had lost out in Conference final defeats to the Red Wings and now he will be joining them in hope that his veteran presence can help them return to the finals.

It is a perfect marriage of class as the respected Modano becomes a member of the prestigious Red Wings.

Detroit already has a core group of well-respected players past their mid-30’s in Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper, and Tomas Holmstrom. Modano isn’t walking into a locker room full of inexperienced players, but rather a team of NHL veterans where he would fit in easily.

Although his numbers and role with the Stars have decreased over the years, Modano is still a talented player and Detroit has always won by using the model of acquiring older NHL-ers. The Red Wings captured their most recent Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008 using such a policy.

In one last final push with the Red Wings, Modano is looking to lift the Stanley Cup once more in style as he the departs from the NHL stage. It would be a fitting way to close his career after 20 seasons, he was one of the most recognizable faces in the league and his large collection of fans across the United States and Canada would be delighted to see him go out on top.

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