They don't want him back.
The team announced Tuesday morning it will not offer a contract to the 40-year-old Modano, who has been with the Stars organization since he was drafted by the old Minnesota North Stars in 1988. The franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993, and Modano has been the team's most recognizable face since then.
Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk talked about the difficulty of this decision.
"We have the upmost respect for Mike Modano," Nieuwendyk said. "He will always be a huge part of this hockey club. He is a great teammate and a great person. Mike is the face of this franchise. That's what makes this decision so hard.
... "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."
Is it a good fit, though? Modano turned 40 earlier in June, his points-per-game totals have declined for three straight seasons, and he doesn't appear to have anything close to the ability he had in his prime. The Wild need centers, yes, but do they need a 40-year-old center who might not have the jump to play regularly? For a franchise that isn't exactly crazy with cap room, this doesn't seem like a really good idea.
Obviously, Nieuwendyk doesn't think the Stars need the aging center who may not be able to play much.
"I know what Mike is going through. When you turn 40 and you face the end of your playing career, it is very hard to let go. I don't blame him for being undecided and possibly wanting to continue. But this is a hockey decision and we feel it is in the best interests of our roster. I stand by that and I believe that."In an interview with The Dallas Morning News that published Saturday, Modano was open to playing with a different team, but he said it would have be one "I'm very familiar with." He cited teams like Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix -- coached by former Stars bench boss Dave Tippett -- as teams he was familiar with.
He didn't mention Minnesota, which might be a sign he already knows it wouldn't be a good idea. Either that, or he's playing coy and trying to generate interest where little likely exists at this point.