Was last night Mike Modano’s last home game as a Star?
It depends on how you look at things.
The Stars are playing their last game of the season in Minneosta. And if you recall, the Dallas Stars used to be the Minnesota North Stars. You also might recall Modano was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars. So Modano could actually play one more home game if you see Minnesota as his original home.
Plus, Modano hasn’t decided if he’ll retire after his current contract expires at the end of this season. Modano said he doesn’t want his parents at the Minnesota game because it might not actually be his final NHL game.
Last night against the Ducks, Modano remained true to form, tying the game and then almost scoring on a breakaway in overtime, although even Modano agrees the Toronto war room was a little generous in counting his high-sticked tip-in as a goal.
Modano’s career numbers are great. He has the Cup, along with 557 goals and 802 assists. He’s one of the all-time great American-born forwards.
His Hall of Fame biography practically writes itself.
But to me, Modano’s real value is in how he aged.
As Modano lost some of his offensive game, it would have been very easy for him to insist he’s the Stars’ number one center. It would have been easy for him to insist he’s the team’s go-to guy. Instead, he let his game evolve, developing a more defensive component.
He could still be counted on to score clutch goals, as we saw last night, but his game became more than scoring. And he never complained about his new role or ice time (although Modano has never lacked for meaningful ice time).
Modano’s final few seasons always reminded me of Bryan Trottier in Pittsburgh, where Trottier played after he had lost some of his offensive game. Trottier, too, let his game evolve, becoming a solid role player capable of moments of offensive genius.
Modano became that same kind of player in his final seasons, serving as an example to the entire NHL that while goal-scoring ability can leave a player, a great player always figures out ways to be great.