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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 NHL.com 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 NHL.com 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."



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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