Golf. Hollywood. Induction into the US Hockey Hall of Fame. Etc. Life after hockey sounds pretty nice for Dallas Stars great Mike Modano. Yet discussion of a potential comeback just won't die, and now matter how many times he's asked, Modano himself declines to dismiss the matter completely.
"It is [horrible]," Modano said of retirement when asked on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket following his media appearance at the AAC to discuss his induction to the US Hockey Hall Of Fame Monday.
"It's been brutal. Harder than I thought." (brutal is a relative term...)
This feels, at best, like a two-year old story at this point, and we realize a good portion of Stars fans are ready to be rid of it. The facts, though, are that Modano will simply not slam the door shut on this discussion no matter how many opportunities he's afforded, and that it's mid-July and we're headed for a work stoppage - Content and all of that.
"It's tough to walk away from the game," he told BaD Radio. "It didn't end the way I wanted it to. I wanted to kind of have a nice long run in the playoffs, have some fun playing playoff hockey, and then say that was it. That was what I [wanted to] remember. How excited I was about playoff hockey before here in the past. So it's been tough."
He told media at the AAC Monday that he "can't really see it happening", but in several other media appearances (focused on by Puck Daddy here) makes it clear that Minnesota, in particular, would very much pique his interest, at the very least.
"I've had a great year off just traveling and playing some golf and having some fun, but there's always a little part of you that wishes it was a little different."
Whichever set of quotes on which one chooses to focus, both sides of the issue are clearly present in his head, and you wonder if the more he's asked (by Buffalo News, Sportsnet, the DMN, Dallas media at the AAC, The Ticket, Twitter, etc, etc...), the larger his desire? Much more from his chat with Bob and Dan after the jump...
Huge thanks to @dfwfanconnect for providing us with this audio.
The two-year old tweet fired off by CSN over the weekend was incendiary enough, but Modano himself has fed the beast a little and was asked about it yesterday.
"I just asked if I could come back and play there," said Modano of this tweet on the 4th of July after the Suter and Parise decisions came down.
Can I come back and play in Minnesota too..? #northstars— Mike Modano (@9modano) July 4, 2012
"A little tongue in cheek and joke," he added. "That was the day after they signed Suter and Parise so I was like 'Hey, it might be fun to go back there and play with those guys and be around that team.'"
It's a funny joke, until he continues on uninterrupted about the situation in Minnesota.
"I think the town is going to be ecstatic about those guys. They're building something good in Minnesota and rightfully so. They should have great hockey and they should have great fans. They do, and I think that move alone will entice other guys to come be a part of that team and it just kind of snowballs."
Those listening live said it started to sound like a bit of a sales pitch about halfway through there, and it went from joke tweet to semi-serious discussion rather quickly.
"Yeah, I'd give it a lot of thought," he said, if presented with the opportunity to come back, but acknowledged it would be tough to really do it. "I think too, after I gave it a lot of thought and thought how exciting that would be, I would kind of go back to what I was thinking about when I was retiring and the last three years about the stuff I really hated about the game."
"That scale kind of goes back and forth without outweighing each other, so it's hard."
You can hear both sides of the argument battling against one another in his head in the interview. Though he's been retired for over a year, has admittedly lost the body mass and muscle required to play, could hardly get into the Red Wings lineup in his final days in the league, had an exceptionally emotional retirement ceremony, has a one-hour special tribute to his career playing on NHL Network regularly, is being inducted into the US HHOF this fall and could be in the HHOF proper in just two more years, he still can't shut the door when asked.
"The first couple of months after retiring I was like, you know, I need to do something. I gotta do something. Then all of a sudden it's the holidays and Christmas and I was traveling around, going back and forth, having some fun, and pretty soon the year was over. It was probably the quickest year I've ever had, even when I was playing. So, it's a tug of war and I can see where there's a little bit of a tongue in cheek with what I said (about Minnesota) but sometimes there's a little truth in every humor."
The hockey world seems a little buzzed about exactly how much truth there is in his humor, but the discussion seems to come from a "Could he really do it and would he really try?" perspective, rather than fans of prospective teams speculating on his destination and usefulness.
For some Stars fans nothing could be worse than seeing him in a Red Wings jersey. Some are apathetic on the subject, or else just disbelieving. This particular Stars fan finds the idea of him playing anywhere again somewhat ( or very) distasteful.
The Dallas #9 jersey was given back and accepted, emotionally, on September 23rd, 2011. Contract signed. He cried. We cried. There's something to be said for just leaving it at that, but you (evidently) cannot suppress the competitive nature of an all-time great like Mike Modano.