It's been some time since we've talked about that Mike Modano guy out in Detroit, but today there was an interesting tidbit of info from Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika from our (former) boy Mike who says he didn't exactly keep himself in the best of shape in his last few years with Dallas:
"I got heavier. I didn't eat very well. I kind of gave up on it. I thought the end was coming, was looking me in the face. I was like, ‘You know, I'm just going to have some fun and do what I can out there.' I knew there was a transition happening, so I was like, ‘I'll just try to hang on.'"
This isn't exactly breaking news here to anyone who has seen Mike Modano play at times over the last couple of seasons. Granted Modano didn't pull a Vince Carter when he admitted that he phoned in his last season with the Toronto Raptors, but as I read what pretty much amounts to confirmation that Mike didn't give 100% to the Stars the last few seasons a few thoughts hit me...
Firstly, to me a 'few' is three or four and if you recall about four years ago Modano was stripped of the Stars 'C' and saw it handed to Brenden Morrow. Given also that "transition" was the buzzword used by management when the move was made, was Modano "kind of giving up on it" his response to losing said captaincy and if it was then that validates the move in the first place doesn't it? Yes Mo had every right to be upset and even be a little bitter about how the whole deal was handled, but would a real team leader just start winding it down like Modano said he had? It would pretty much justify the move then Stars GM Doug Armstrong made in giving the captaincy to a younger and a seemingly more driven-to-succeed Morrow.
But the real troubling fact about this revelation of Modano's is that over the last two seasons the Stars have missed the playoffs by relatively narrow margins, so it begs the question: If Mike Modano had kept himself in shape and did more than 'just try to hang on' how much difference would that have made to the Stars in those seasons they just missed? Would he have been able to pick up another 20 goal season 08-09? Would he have been able to avoid injury and play a full season last year? Could have an in shape and fully focused Mike Modano helped give the Stars that last little extra push into the playoffs where all hockey fans know anything can happen once you get in?
Remember, one of the things that Modano said back in the fall when he joined the Red Wings was that he felt playing on the Stars didn't give him that much of a chance to play for a winning team and that the previous non-playoff seasons had worn on him mentally. What if Modano had been in shape and as a result his improved play would have helped the Stars perform better over the last two years? How much different would things be? It's almost a certainty that if this was the attitude Modano was pulling in the dressing room, then it's little wonder Joe Nieuwendyk felt it was time to move on without the one time franchise player.
Heck if you really want to widen the scope on what kind of impact his decision to "just hang on" possibly had, maybe American hockey fans should wonder if a fully in-shape and dedicated Modano would have made the US Olympic hockey team this past February. Remember that US Hockey GM Brian Burke in the months leading up to the naming of the American team pretty much indicated that if he could even remotely justify it, Modano would be a strong candidate to make the team. How much difference if any would he have made to that team in it's run for a gold medal?
Of course this is all speculation on our part and there is a chance that even a fully committed and in-shape Modano doesn't help get the Stars into the playoffs or change the color of medal the Americans won from silver to gold, but I think it's safe to say now we have a bunch of "what if's?" staring us in the face as we find out Modano is now with the Red Wings and just now getting himself properly in shape.
If thinking about these "what if's" as a Stars fan doesn't make you angry over what could have been, it should at least bother you greatly that they are there. And if you still had any thoughts that the Stars made a bad move this summer by letting Modano walk away like they did, then maybe Modano's 'confession' that he didn't give the Stars his complete and honest dedication the last few years should put those thoughts to rest.