Mike Modano has played in only one of the Detroit Red Wings seven playoff games thus far, and if he is a healthy scratch once again tonight that might have been his last NHL outing. Ever. Earlier this spring the former Dallas Star indicated that this would likely be his last go around in the NHL.
This possible end for Modano, be it in game four, five or six of the Wings series with the Sharks comes fittingly at a time when the team he left is leaving the very last piece of his era in Dallas behind: Tom Hicks Sr.
By the end of this month or the beginning of the next it is expected (hoped, perhaps) that the last remnants of Hicks Sports Group will be shed and the franchise will break loose from the financial shackles placed upon it these last three seasons. It's possible, maybe even probable, that the lack of payroll had something to do with Modano's dismissal last year (though I think it was more of an on ice/locker room decision than anything else).
If the team had been spending to the cap all this time and the Stars had not missed the playoffs in Modano's last two seasons it is entirely plausible that the different circumstances that scenario implies could have motivated (reinvigorated?) the center and the decision might not have been put before Joe Nieuwendyk at all.
That's a lot of wishes and what ifs. The reality is that the best career an American born hockey player will ever have could possibly come to an end this weekend and it's bittersweet for Stars fans.
The sweet part is that Mike will come home. His real home. Sure, he grew up in Michigan and Livonia and Minnesota and blah blah blah. Those people have been convincing themselves of all of that for a while now. Stop it. Somewhere along the way Mike Modano came to call Dallas home, and it's where he'll return. It's where he'll stay, and we're thrilled to have him and Mandy. It's where he belongs.
The bitterness is in the way it went down. The wrist injury he suffered was unfortunate because he was just starting to get acclimated to his new team. It's regrettable to many Stars fans that he went there at all, but a man must be allowed to try his strengths and make the call for himself. Mike Modano is all that is man, and no one in their right mind would begrudge Nieuwendyk or Modano for the choices they made last summer.
There's still a chance that Modano could come back another year. 'Google News' his name and read the quotes. They are numerous and they all point to one thing: Frustration. Is that the way he wants to end it? Will he be forced to?
There are reasons beyond sentimentality for Babcock to put him on the ice tonight. He provided a pretty good burst of energy in the lone game he played against Phoenix. The Wings look old and could certainly use a burst, even if it is from Mike Modano.
Whatever happens we continue to thank Mike and look forward to his return to the Metroplex. The photos in Green and Black outnumber the red and white by a gargantuan amount, after all. Tom Gaglardi's second order of business, after extending Richards, might just be where to put the Modano statue?
I don't care what Mark Cuban thinks. I want it smack dab in the middle of the AT&T Plaza. And "Houston Street"? Really?? How about Mike Modano Street, Dallas City Council?