Monday, July 5, 2010

Modano's Exit Tough To Take, but he Should have known it was coming

Kevin Sherrington's recent column in the Dallas Morning News posts that the Stars need to start moving forward and help create a new era for the Dallas Stars moving forward.

From Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News:

When NHL Players say goodbye after 20 years with the only club that he had ever known, they shouldn't look so good doing it. The party in question should be a bow legged, beat up geezer, bent and creaking praying that his eyes don't leak and his dentures hold.

Mike Modano came in Wednesday looking like he's taken a wrong turn on the way to a GQ Photo Shoot. Sharp Suit and Great Tan, nose in place with his hair and teeth intact.

40 years old never looked so good on anyone, much less a guy who swings a stick for living. But not scars are so apparent. Given another 24 hours to consider the end of his fabulous career as a Star, Modano made the most of itin his last Dallas News Conference.

"All good things.... all bad things that happen turn out to be a blessing in disguise," he said. "Maybe this is one of those." Let's hope so. Let's hope as time goes by, he gets a better sense of Joe Nieuwendyk's predicament and the state of the Stars in general.

Let's hope if he blames anybody, it's Tom Hicks. Of course, he'll have to get in line. Or hire a lawyer.

Modano's days in Dallas might not be over if ownership wasn't quite in question and the team's prospects were better. But its a young, rebuilding club. There's no place anymore for a 40 year old fourth line center with Modano's skill set.

What's not yet clear is whetever Modano understands just what happened and why. It wouldn't be the first time. For better or worse, the Stars were always trying to tell Modano something he didn't get on his own.

When he became coach, Ken Hitchcock told Modano he'd have to work hard defensively. He was addressing one of the game's most gifted players, a man who would become the all time leading point scorer among U.S. Born Players. Defense? It was like using a maserati to drive a carpool.

As Modano once said of Hitch's command, "That kind of went 180 against what I was thinking."

But it was the best for the Stars, and it was the best for Modano. He showed a side of his game previously unexposed. Playing with a cast on his broken wrist in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, Modano still didn't know how much to ask of himself. Going into Game 5, he said he'd been hanging around, waiting for something to happen. Then Hitchcock, who called Modano his "X-Factor", asked what kind of player he was going to be.

He responded by assisting on both goals in the pivotal Game 5. He didn't have a single goal in the series. But the Stars couldn't have hoisted the Cup without his gritty, gutsy play. Standings on a makeshift podium in a Buffalo locker room in the early morning afterglow, Modano realized how far he'd come.

"The scouting report said I was a very soft one way player," he said. He managed little else before his emotions overwhelmed him. Exiting the platform, he found his fathers shoulder and buried his head in it, barely coming up for air.

Even though the Stars helped him shed the soft image, Modano never seemed to learn that it was a tough love relationship. He was angry and hurt when they stripped him of the Captain C. But he really wasn't really the captain. He was "Upset and disappointed" when they told him they were turning the page, but he should have seen it coming.

Nieuwendyuk tried to tell him. His great career came to an end, too. He knows the feeling. "We talked about a lot of things during the season," the GM Said. "We even talked about how it's tough to find things in common with the young guys.

"I was trying to be as respectful as I could." Maybe that was the problem. Nieuwendyk should have come at him plain and simple, like Hitch did.

Nieuwendyk says he never would have given Modano a do-or-die ultimatum. If he had, it might have led to a cleaner separation. Not many Cowboys fans resent the fact that Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry. They just didn't like how he went about it. Nieuwendyk could have waited another week. Let Modano test the free agent market on the side. See if there's any interest.

Then if he didn't like what he heard, Modano could held his news conference first, and it would have seemed like his idea. Nieuwendyk didn't consider that option, either. He didn't get the idea that Modano was close to a decision. He simply couldn't wait.

Now were left to consider a divorice messier then it needed to be and the possibility that, like Emmitt Smith, Modano could finish his career in a jersey in another color. Even as he mulls his options, he concedes it doesn't seem right."

No it doesn't. But its his preogative. And give him this: He sure looks like he could still play. He hardly seems a day older then when he showed up on our doorstep in 1993, a baby-faced kid careening fast and smooth down a sheet of ice, head up, the whole world in front of him. Like Hockey in Dallas, he grew up before our eyes, and not without growing pains. But for two decades he remained the face of the franchise. And what a face it was.

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