Update: Find an updated master list of Modano news clippings here. And Follow Defending Big D on Twitter here.
Since re-hashing the events of last night's on-ice action is the last thing I want to do right now, I'll keep the customary Stargazing intro brief: They stunk, and they didn't support a young teammate (Climie) in need of their help. Brenden Morrow would have been useful their, in my opinion. Still, the 5 points they took from the Blackhawks in 4 games this year is a tremendous improvement over the way they played them last season.
But enough about that. I went to the game, as I will Thursday, with one guy on my mind (hey now): Mike Modano. Before ascending to my customary perch high above AAC ice in section 314, I took a rare trip to the lower bowl to watch the shootaround. I watched Mike skate and have fun with his teammates. I saw the signs people made for him, and spoke to others about him. Some are sure he'll come back, and standing there a few feet away from him made it hard to think that he couldn't play another year in this league. He still has the tools.
Others are quite certain that this is it. That it "feels like it's time," one guy told me.
I don't know. What I do know, is that a 5-2 game makes it hard for anyone to show up and appreciate Mike Modano. Let's clean that up a bit for Thursday, ok boys? Please?
Meanwhile, the Modano news items are coming fast and furious. Let's recap a few of them, starting with friend of Defending Big D, Bob Sturm o' The Ticket...
As I have said a dozen times, Mike Modano was perfect for a city like Dallas. Maybe there were better players, but there wasn't anyone more perfect for selling Texas on this game.
He was American. He was good looking (so they tell me). He was the best player on the ice - even if you were watching your first hockey game, you could tell he was the best player and surely the most electrifying.
Think about it. We all feel like Dallas is the exception to the rule when it comes to the NHL in the sun belt. In many of the cities, it has only been an unqualified success in years where those teams win the Stanley Cup. But in Dallas, the Stars have generally been well supported and followed. I submit to you that is a result of the instant magnetic force that Mike Modano and some of his friends had on the city.
Truly it was a match made in hockey-heaven. We were extraordinarily lucky that it came together like that in Dallas. And come on, Bob....you know Mike is a very handsome fellow.
NHL.com did a great piece on Mike, including some notes from when the team first got to Dallas:
After the relocation of the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas, where they dropped "North" from their name, Modano introduced the NHL game to Texas by scoring a career-high 50 goals in his first Dallas season, 1993-94.
"We all met with the marketing people," Modano said of the difficult opening days in Dallas. "The fans (didn't) know that much about the game, (but) there were a lot of transplants from up north (and) a lot of new fans that we needed to get into the arena and that was the goal. Just get them to a game in one way or form and they'd be hooked."
"Through Mike's charismatic abilities, the way he skates and the way he presents himself, he's the total package," former teammate Brent Severyn told NHL.com. "Because of him and the success of the team, especially in 1999 (the Cup year), hockey has grown exponentially."
The Vancouver Sun compares the coverage of Seguin and Hall this year to the lack of coverage of Modano and Linden back in 1988....
"The coverage is far more than we ever had with the Internet access and the ability to watch other guys, and teams. You can monitor it much more closely now. Back then, all I had was the Prince Albert Herald. That was my coverage.
"There was some hoopla around us, but nowadays, reading about these two every day, it's probably more nerve-racking," said Modano.
Quinn knew the Tigers were a superior team to Prince Albert, but they were scouting players not teams.
"You weren't going to miss with either one. Minnesota chose to pick arguably the better athlete at that time ... he's been a great point-getter and a Stanley Cup winner, but Vancouver didn't miss with Trevor, either (he was the Canucks' best player in the '94 finals against the Rangers and had 99 points in 124 playoff games)," said Quinn.
Make sure you read that one. There are some cool notes in there about Mike's draft year.
RealGM recaps Mike's career. Here's but a sample of it...
Over the next 13 seasons, he never finished below 28 goals in any season in which he played more than 55 games. In 11 of the 15 seasons following his rookie year, he would tally at least 77 points – 2 of those seasons being cut short by injury. 9 out of 11 seasons from 1991-92 to 2001-02 he scored more than 30 goals. If he was healthy, he was consistent and deadly with one of the best slap shots in the entire league. Modano was both a sniper and a playmaker: his career high of 93 points was reached twice, once because of a 60-assist season, the next because he reached 50 goals.
If he plays in all three remaining games, Modano will reach 1,459 games played for his career. On March 12th, days before an emergency appendectomy, he passed Brendan Shanahan for 23rd on the all-time points list and (if he retires) will remain there with his 1,357 points – twelve points behind the next player. He is tied for 24th all-time with 556 goals, and his 801 assists are good for 29th. Add in his very solid +119 career rating and there is no doubt this man will be enshrined in the Hall Of Fame three years after he retires (the customary waiting period).
"I remember one time he got hit in the face with the puck, we thought he was done. The feeling on the bench is we thought we got rid of him. Then he's back.
"He always found a way to make an impression in big games."
Over the years, as they look back at those 33 playoff games, they can't help but feel a sense of admiration for the guys on the other side.
"You go from hatred to a respect," said Moreau. "(Modano) always handled himself with a lot of class, regardless of the situation. You took a cheap shot at him or said something you weren't supposed to say, it was all left on the ice.
"He's up there with a guy like Yzerman as far as the respect that he demands around the league. A Hall of Fame guy that for a guy like me was a real pleasure to be able to play against him for that many years."
And in case you missed it, Mike Heika offered the most compelling case I've read so far as to why Mike might want to come back after all, and the Stars might need to have him: Being unable to extend Brad Richards and moving him. We're gonna talk more about that in impending off-season.
Here's our series on Modano versus his final 5 opponents:
Five To Go For Number Nine: Modano's Last Days? (vs. Edmonton)