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Mike Modano Returns To Dallas: Time To Move On & Play Hockey

We covered it here on DBD until you (the readers) said it was enough. We've moved on as a Dallas Stars community, focusing on this current roster of players and this team instead of getting caught up in the fact that Mike Modano is now playing for the Detroit Red Wings. While we certainly acknowledge how much it will hurt to see him wearing red, the majority of us know that for all involved this was likely the best outcome considering the circumstances.

Unfortunately, we've haven't been able to truly move on. Not yet. Each time a national news organization put together a highlight package or wrote about the two victories over the weekend, there was a focus on the one player that wasn't there. ESPN couldn't show a Stars highlight without mentioning Modano and his fairly easy goal in the first game of the season was a Top 10 highlight because, well, he scored for Detroit.

It's tough to blame the national media. For the past ten years the only aspect of the Stars that has made the team remotely relevant to the rest of the NHL was the history-making success of Mike Modano. He was the Face Of The Franchise and his likeness was directly related to "that hockey team down there in Texas". Now that he's moved on, it's tough to really find anything to say about the Stars that will spark a national audience; Kari Lehtonen isn't exactly a national sensation and Brad Richards is much too quiet and humble to be a true superstar.

Instead we have non-stop, wall to wall coverage of Modano's return to Dallas while wearing the jersey of a hated rival. The press coverage for the game today, while certainly amped up a bit for the home opener, was certainly much more substantial because of Modano. He's the "scorned player" who is making a "triumphant return" to the team that thought he was "washed up."

It's getting a bit tiring, to be honest. What would be ideal is that Mike Modano plays tonight, gets a big ovation from the fans, rattles off a couple of shots on net and the Stars win. The Red Wings move on with their season and the Stars do the same. Before that happens, we must clear the air on a number misconceptions and storylines floating about on Modano and the Stars.

After the break, I jump all over them...

  • The Dallas Stars released Mike Modano because he was "washed up".  False. The Dallas Stars were forced to make a decision for Modano when he failed to come to a decision on his future in time for free agency. With the Stars facing a very tough financial situation over the summer, the team could not afford to sit around and wait for Modano to decide on retirement or not.

    Furthermore, the Dallas Stars and Mike Modano acted as if this was his final season starting with the last month of the regular season. Two tearful farewells in Dallas and Minnesota and statements that Modano was leaning towards retirement. Meanwhile, the Stars were focused on developing their young players and knew that despite the fact that Modano could still play, a center like Jamie Benn would be much more valuable in the future.
  • The Dallas Stars will struggle to replace Mike Modano's production. Modano had 29 goals and 76 points total between the past two seasons in Dallas. While it would be tough to replace the veteran presence Modano provided on the bench, the Dallas Stars should have no issues replacing the production of a player averaging 14 goals and 38 points a season. It's also not just about 2010, it's about moving forward and the Stars have a wealth of talented forwards -- I doubt they'll have trouble replacing that production moving forward.
  • The Dallas Stars were "class-less" in releasing Mike Modano the way they did, tossing him aside like an unwanted player. This is the most common theme for Stars fans and one that seems to have turned the common fan against Joe Nieuwendyk the most. The Dallas Stars, after several weeks of hinting publicly, announced via press conference that Modano would not be offered a contract for next season. No fanfare, just a press conference.

    If you ever have the chance to talk to Joe Nieuwendyk, or see him in person, you know that he's a no-nonsense guy. He's not going to sugarcoat things, he's not keen on making something into a big to-do. The Dallas Stars had already pulled of a very magical farewell game for Modano at the end of the season; there was really no need for more. If Modano had decided to retire, I"m certain there would have been something much more substantial. As it was, the Stars were releasing the most popular player in the history of the franchise. Not an easy position to be in.

Here's how the fine folks at the NHL Network feels about the game and this situation.

There is much more to worry about tonight than Mike Modano. The Stars are going against a great defensive team without Jamie Benn and there's concern about how the Mike Ribeiro situation will affect the positive momentum the team had built.

Mike Modano plays for Detroit and I'm sure he's going to have some struggles facing his old teammates for the first time. But after that initial roar of the crowd, after that first drop of the puck -- it's just hockey. The objective remains the same and the Stars have more to focus on than #90.

I've moved on and I have accepted that Mike Modano no longer plays for Dallas. It's time for the rest of the hockey world to do the same.