Is that the way Mike Modano's NHL playing career ends? After a healthy scratch in a suit and tie in a jubilant Shark Tank? That's the question facing the (very soon to be) 41 year old as his off-season commences.
The Detroit Red Wings feelings on the subject seem to be pretty clear as Mike was unable to crack the lineup most nights in the playoffs, but the wrist injury prevented him from truly getting his game in order this season and the subsequent results may not have been representative of his true capabilities at this age.
In mid April as the playoffs began he told ESPN his body was telling him the end was near... "My body has been telling me and so has my head," Modano said. "I knew that if the body wasn't doing things on the ice that I was accustomed to doing, it was time to move on. There are subtle signs that I've gotten that it's only going to get worse. I can't stay on the ice as long as I used to, things like that."
He has softened that stance a little since, even after a slew of healthy scratches, saying that he would take his time this off-season with the decision. The prevailing opinion out there is that this was his last hurrah, but as the summer wears on I wouldn't be surprised if he very quietly and privately gauges interest out there just to be sure.
What kind of interest would there be? More and more we see that this is a young mans game out there these days. The speed, strength and SIZE of San Jose knocking out an older Detroit team was the perfect microcosm of that concept, and when Modano did get on the ice in Game 5 it was widely observed that he was getting pummeled out there.
Last season ended on a wonderful note for Mike with the heroics and skill he displayed in that final home game before the tears and the ovations. This off-season public perception will be quite different without much in the way of NHL currency (goals, assists) in the bank from the 2010-2011 campaign.
If not with the Red Wings, then where? Will the conspiracy nutters and nostalgic (or otherwise still bitter about the move) crowd in Minnesota come out and lobby again or has this playoff effectively spoiled any of that talk?
We'll be hoping for a Dallas Stars contract for Mr. Modano; A contract of the one-day variety and a press conference sometime in July (or sooner) announcing the end of an inspiring, stellar career and the return home of Stars' fans favorite son. (Or if you like, the father of hockey in North Texas)