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Some would urge Modano's move

Former teammates see Michigan native as perfect fit for Detroit

Wednesday, 07.7.2010 / 4:09 PM ET / News
By Michelle Crechiolo  - DetroitRedWings.com Intern
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Some would urge Modano\'s move
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DETROIT – Former Little Caesars coach Chris Coury vividly remembers the first time he saw Mike Modano play — 26 years ago.

“I remember his first exhibition game … I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow. This kid’s a surefire NHLer,’” said Coury, who coached Modano during the 1984-85 season in the Detroit-based program. “I had no doubt in my mind from the first game he played with us. In practices, you could tell he had ability, but really, when he played the game you could see his ability to jump out at you.”

It’s this Michigan connection that makes the Red Wings’ courtship of Modano intriguing. During his tenure with Little Caesars, he skated at Joe Louis Arena — it would be fitting for him to finish his career on the same sheet of ice he started on.

“I think it would be amazing,” Coury said. “He would be in the limelight here with friends and family, which might be difficult on him, but the fact is I think it would be great for him to finish here, playing for the Red Wings, considering he really got his big start in the Little Caesars program.”

Modano hails from Westland, Michigan – about 30 miles west of Detroit – and his parents still reside in the area. But returning to his roots isn’t the only reason the Wings would be a fitting choice for the 40-year-old unrestricted free agent.

The Wings are known for their veteran leadership in the locker room, consistently ranking as one of the NHL’s oldest teams in terms of average age. Yet that hasn’t slowed them down. They won the Stanley Cup in 2008 as the NHL’s oldest team, with an average age of 31.8.

“It’s a veteran team, he’d have no problem fitting in,” said Larry Murphy, who played with Modano for two seasons on the Minnesota North Stars, which later became the Dallas Stars. “It’s a team whose goal is to win the championship, and I know that would be one of the driving forces for him to continue on playing.”

Modano, drafted No. 1 overall by the North Stars in 1988, has spent his entire 20-year NHL career with the franchise. It’s enticing to think he could join the likes of Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux, who retired after spending their entire storied careers with one organization.

But former Wings forward Basil McRae, Modano’s teammate from 1989-92, says joining another team won’t tarnish Modano’s accomplishments.

“Mike’s up there with those elite players that have played their whole career with the team that drafted them,” McRae said. “But then again, on the other hand, you’ve got Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr, who all played for different organizations. I think that’s a sacrifice Mike will have to make, but to me, it’s the benefits of maybe changing teams and changing your environment and having a chance to win a Cup. ... In this day and age, like I said, it is a nice thing (to play one’s whole career with one team), but Mike has accomplished so many goals and milestones that I don’t think it would bother him too much not to have that feather in his hat.”

An eight-time NHL All-Star, Modano is the all-time points leader among U.S.-born players with 1,359 points in 1,459 career games. The three-time Olympian is one of only six American-born players to be selected first overall in the NHL draft, and he even won a Cup in 1999. His elite resume would fit nicely beside Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

And those who have played with Modano say he is the consummate teammate.

“As great of a player he is on the ice, he’s a great guy off the ice,” says McRae, who made a cameo appearance alongside Modano in the 1992 film “The Mighty Ducks”.

Murphy agreed, saying, “I see him during the season, and he’s just a terrific guy.” 

Modano’s no longer in the prime of his career, but he still has a lot to offer if he chooses. And Murphy hopes Modano chooses to round out his career with his hometown team.

“He’s still going to be an impact guy, and he’d make the Wings a better team,” Murphy said. “So it’d be exciting for him to come home and play. ... I would sure try to convince him to join the Wings.”


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80