"A part of me wants to keep coming back to play until they tell me they don't want me to come back."
So, how would you like to take a bite off the plate of Dallas Stars GM
A second spring spent on the playoff sidelines ensures that there are big changes coming in Big D. And Nieuwendyk, handcuffed by an ownership in flux and bearing the weight of relationships with former teammates, has some tough decisions ahead.
Speculation is swirling about those impending changes, but it's likely that the first to be told he's free to go will be
Both veterans have been part of the team's core for a decade or more, but they won't be the toughest call Nieuwendyk has to make.
That will be the future of Modano.
Modano, after all, isn't just a player. He's an icon. A larger-than-life figure who has meant everything to the Stars the same way that
Because he's plied his craft in Texas, Modano hasn't been as celebrated as Yzerman or Sakic, but the fact that he's remained with the franchise his entire career is a remarkable achievement. He's had chances to leave in the past, almost signing with Boston as a free agent a few years back and turning down a chance to go to the Capitals at the trade deadline earlier this month, but he chose to stay. He recognizes the rarity of his opportunity.
Loyalty like that is tough to ignore.
But with his 40th birthday coming up on June 7, the end is coming sooner than later for Modano. Sidelined now after an emergency appendectomy ("a not-so-subtle reminder of how Father Time catches up to all of us," he told WFAA TV), Modano hopes to come back some time during the team's current four-game road trip. That would allow him to play four more games in Dallas and finish the season, fittingly, where it all began for him: in Minnesota.
After that? Well, Nieuwendyk has said that he'll let Modano have some time to consider his future, and then he'll discuss it with him. The words seem open, but the tone suggested a clear interpretation: the team would benefit from moving on and the GM is hoping that Modano will make it easy on him.
The truth is, the on-ice product would be fine without Modano.
But remember, this isn't just a hockey decision. Going by the expanses of empty seats most nights at the AAC, it's clear that Dallas has a fan base that's with the team win or tie. If selling tickets with a figuratively graying Modano in the lineup is tough, it's hard to imagine what it will be like without him.
Not everyone is ready to send Modano out to pasture, including ex-teammate, and former boss,
Hull might be right. The standard line is that the legs are the first thing to go. Modano may have lost a step over the years, but he was so fast to begin with that keeping up isn't the issue. The desire, however, is another matter. He's always been the sort of player whose effort could be questioned on occasion. This season, there have been more shifts where he's appeared to be something less than motivated. The dynamic moments when the overdrive kicks in and the jersey flaps in his wake still arise, but so infrequently now that they stand out instead of being the standard.
Modano, who isn't giving any clues as to his intentions, spoke last summer about how the frustration of missing the playoffs motivated him to return this season. Now, after another DNQ campaign, and with little hope of a quick turnaround next season, you have to wonder if the will is still there to go through it all again.
The one safe bet is that the decision won't be rushed. Modano doesn't seem like the sort of player who'd want a farewell tour anyway, so don't expect an announcement before the last home game against the Ducks on April 8, or before the finale at the Xcel Energy Center on the 10th.
But you might want to catch those games, live or on TV, if you get the chance. Because a tough decision is coming. Whether it's Modano or Nieuwendyk who makes the call, we may be seeing the final days of a legend.
Shopping for new gear with my son the other day, I was reminded that none of the involved parties in the NHL should feel as though they've adequately addressed the head shots issue without also tackling the state of modern equipment.
Watching my kid slap on that over-priced body armor, I realized that all I needed to do was jam a couple spikes in the shoulder pads, give him a mohawk and he'd ready for Thunderdome. By comparison, my stuff looks like it came out of
Worked out pretty well for
A stat that I just can't wrap my head around:
A year ago, 17-year-old Russian
The QMJHL's top-rated prospect for the upcoming draft, Kabanov was benched for the second and third periods of Moncton's 6-3 series-opening win over Cape Breton after a pair of mental errors led to penalties. The next night, he was a healthy scratch. Two days later, he was released by the team, ostensibly to play for Russia at the World Under-18 Tournament.
Sorry, but that story doesn't float. Keep in mind that Moncton is in contention for a Memorial Cup berth, so releasing one of their most offensively gifted forwards to play for his country at this point makes about as much sense as the Capitals sending
And there is.
A league source said Kabanov's attitude created rifts in the Wildcats' dressing room and his presence had become "a detriment to the team." His draft stock had already been damaged by injuries that cut deeply into his season. With memories of Zherdev and