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Babcock believes Modano has a lot left

Tuesday, 08.3.2010 / 4:07 PM ET / News
By Dan Rosen
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Babcock believes Modano has a lot left
Mike Babcock expressed his firm belief that the Red Wings would sign Mike Modano when he gave an exclusive interview to last month. Now that it reportedly will come true, with the Detroit Free Press reporting that Modano and the Wings will announce the signing on Thursday, Babcock is not the least bit surprised.

"I'm no more convinced today than I was then, but I think it's going to happen and we'd be excited for him to come," Babcock told on Tuesday. "We think he'd be a good fit for us and excited to play for us and we think he'll have a real good year. If he comes to us I'm a big believer he'll end up playing again next year, too. I think he's got that kind of legs left in him. And remember, he's not coming here to be the guy; he's coming here to be one of the guys."

Modano, who's golfing in Scotland, confirmed via text to the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that he has decided to play with the Wings.

Babcock, who has been stumping to get Modano on the roster for a while now, sees his options for line combinations and power-play units growing if the 40-year-old makes it official on Thursday, as the Free Press report indicated. He also sees the Red Wings getting back to being the puck possession team that won the Stanley Cup in 2008 and played to Game 7 of the finals in 2009.
We're trying to get back to being the Red Wings, not like last year when we were taped together all year, had no depth and we rode people too hard so when we got to the playoffs we were exhausted. We think Nick (Lidstrom) has some left in him, but not if we're defending all the time. We need to get the puck and go. Our goal is to be loaded up. - Mike Babcock

"We're trying to get back to being the Red Wings, not like last year when we were taped together all year, had no depth and we rode people too hard so when we got to the playoffs we were exhausted," Babcock said. "We think Nick (Lidstrom) has some left in him, but not if we're defending all the time. We need to get the puck and go. Our goal is to be loaded up."

Modano, who grew up in the Detroit area and whose parents still live there, fits into that philosophy because he would give the Wings another scoring option. He has 1,359 points in 1,459 NHL regular-season games.

"What he is is just another guy that can score, another guy you have to worry about a little bit," Babcock said.

Before the summer began, Babcock penciled in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to start the 2010-11 season together on the top line with Tomas Holmstrom serving as the other wing. Babcock is still planning on that.

If Datsyuk and Zetterberg, who played on different lines for long stretches last season, are playing together that means Valtteri Filppula assumes the role as the Wings' No. 2 center. Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi would be his wings, Babcock envisions.

With the top six already ironed out, Modano's value becomes greater because Babcock sees the all-time leading American-born scorer in NHL history fitting in as the Wings' third-line center between Dan Cleary and the returning Jiri Hudler, who spent last season playing in Russia.

If Modano is there, that means Justin Abdelkader, who would have been the third-line center, can drop into the fourth-line rotation with Darren Helm, Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and maybe Mattias Ritola.

"It puts Abby and Helmer in a spot where they should be for another year if they're going to be on a winning team," Babcock said.

Modano may be 40, but he scored 30 points in 59 games last season on a non-playoff team. Babcock confirmed that Modano will be given the chance to play not only on the third line, but also on the point of the Wings' second power-play unit opposite Niklas Kronwall.

It's not farfetched to think that if Modano stays healthy, he could produce upwards of 50 points.

"That's kind of what I'm thinking," Babcock said. "Because of his ability to shoot the puck, if he gets the puck to Hudler and he gets open, he can score."

Hudler, who had 57 points in 2008-09, will be expected to produce north of 60 and Cleary likely around 50. If they all stay healthy, the Wings could have one of the best third lines in the NHL.

"Hudler is a better player than people think," Babcock said. "I missed him way more last season than I thought I was going to miss him. To me, the kid is magic. We're thrilled to have him back. I like our team here. I even said that to my wife."




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
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