On June 29, 2010 the Dallas stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk went on the record announcing Dallas will not be offering the longest standing member of the Stars, Mike Modano a contract.
Only a few month back it seemed clear as the season ended that Modano was retiring. The stage was set. The NHL scheduler had brought the Minnesota Wild to town and a teary eyed Mike Modano skated around the ice waving good bye after the game. It all seemed fitting, since the Minnesota North Stars were the team that drafted Mike 1st overall in 1988. The highest scoring American born player of all time had successfully finished his 20th season was ready to ride off into the glorious Dallas sunset.
Maybe it was all too soon. For Modano the story might need another chapter.
The door to retirement hasn't closed yet and it very well may be what transpires before the puck drops in October 2010.
There are rumblings of interest from a number of teams like Detroit for the Michigan born icon and the Wild for his career to go full circle. It's hard to fault Modano for waiting to see what is out there for the future hall of fame speedster.
The question I have is could Brian Burke believe Mike Modano is a good fit for the blue and white?
Burke has stated he's a very big fan of the 6'3" centre and if Modano had of stayed injury free year last year Burke likely had a spot for him on the US Olympic team. Both Ron Wilson and Burke get along very well with Modano.
What does the 39 year old Modano have left in the tank? His point production has decreased in recent years although he can still find the back of the net and make his teammates better. His speed has not decreased in any way and his ability to play 2 way hockey continues to be underrated. He has won a Stanley Cup (sorry Sabres fans, it did happen), he's well respected throughout the NHL and could bring a calming leadership to a very young team. It should also be noted the price may be right. Last year in Dallas, Modano earned $2.25 million and would likely be looking at a 1 year contract around $2 million probably with a player option for a second year. For that price can you say no?
Consider the other UFA options up the middle.
Olli Jokinen- At 30 years old will demand a larger contract and isn't a Burke type player. To me he's not a fit.
Saku Koivu- Although he maybe similar in price the 34 year old small centre also isn't of Burke mold. To me he's not on the radar.
Matt Cullen- Matt is a solid option and has the tool set to fit the Leafs. His resume isn't at the level of Modano and will likely have a higher price tag.
John Madden- Madden had a very strong playoff for Chicago. He proved himself once again as a defensive specialist. If Madden is targeted then it would seem he would be looked at to fill a different role.
Matthew Lombardi- Lombardi is a much younger player and will likely be looking for a larger pay check. He maybe on Burke's hit list.
Chris Higgins-Just like Lombardi is at that point in his career where he'd looking for a bigger contract. I'm not a fan of Higgins and would hope Burke is looking at other options.
I'm not expecting a Mike Modano to be the answer to all Leafs Nations questions and I'm sure we'll hear the critics comparing a signing like this to when in the past players like Francis, Lindros, Allison and even Joe Nieuwendyk were brought to TO. It would be ideal if this type of signing could be just a piece to the puzzle Brian Burke will be putting together. In my opinion this particular version of the Toronto Maple Leafs is in need of a veteran. A veteran like Mike Modano.