Mike Modano Baffled by Stars
"It seems like yesterday I was leaving to go play in Canada," Modano told FanHouse by phone on Saturday. "The education I got with Little Caesars was a big part of hockey for me. ... My family couldn't believe it when I said there was a chance I was going home."
So it's full circle for Modano, when all along he'd thought it would be a straight line with the Stars after being drafted with the top pick in 1988 by the North Stars.
He remains mystified that things didn't work out as he'd thought. Modano wanted to retire with Dallas, but he also knew he had one more season in him. Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, a friend and former teammate, had talked to Modano about the team's decision to move on, but it still doesn't compute.
"I didn't really understand it, and I still don't to this day, where they don't find a way to make it work, where I can finish my career as a Star," Modano told FanHouse. "I don't know, philosophical differences, the team is different, you have to accept the decision. And then the opportunity with Detroit came along."
Modano grew up in Livonia, Mich., near Detroit, and like all his friends and his fellow Little Caesers players, he was a big Red Wings fan, though the teams weren't all that great in his youth. What sold him on the Red Wings now, however, is how well other hockey greats have been treated when playing for Detroit later in their careers -- and how successful they've been.
He spoke to Brett Hull and Chris Chelios, who won Stanley Cups with the Wings, and with Todd Bertuzzi, who signed a two-year extension with the team. He knows Luc Robitaille is among the Hall of Famers who won his only Stanley Cup late his his career with Detroit.
"It does seem to be a good fit for a lot of guys grabbing the last two or three years of their career," Modano said. "Plus, they always have great young talent, too, and that makes things easier for the older guys. I hope that's still the case."
And while Modano's production has dropped off some and he's 40, a change of scenery could be just the right thing.
"It is going to be exciting," he said. "There's going to be a lot of nervousness when everything starts, even in training camp. Hopefully it's a rejuvenation."
The Red Wings are annually dinged for the team's age, but it's seldom a detriment; adding Modano and 35-year-old Ruslan Salei will set off the usual criticisms, but there are few other clubs that have done as well with heavily veteran clubs.
Modano is likely to center the third line and see some power-play time, and he's looking forward to playing with Detroit's deep stable of talent rather than against it.
"You can go right down the list," he said. "The whole lineup is difficult to play against. If there was a team I'd watch on TV, it was those guys. They play the game the right way and make it look easy, they skate well, they pass well. Top to bottom, you can't go wrong."