Well, it's official now. Long-time Dallas Stars centre Mike Modano will not be returning to the team for his 21st season after signing with the Detroit Red Wings this week.
Early this offseason, it was announced that the Stars would not offer Modano a renewal on his contract, despite his 1,459 games with the franchise, as they deemed it necessary to cut him loose to pursue younger talent.
Now that the news of his move to Motown is official, it is time to ask why.
The Stars owners are clearly making major changes to the franchise, as can be seen by the firing of Dave Tippett (who went on to win the 2010 Jack Adams Award) last season, introducing Joe Nieuwendyk as general manager that same season, and then allowing both Modano and veteran goaltender Marty Turco to walk this offseason.
Dallas fans over the past ten years have gotten used to the signature style of play for the Stars, which can be described in one way: defensive.
Nicknamed the New Jersey Devils of the West by some, Dallas utilized the trap (until the red-line was taken out, that is) and have been known for being a defensively-minded team.
These recent changes seem to significantly point to a changing style for the team, however. Crawford is expecting an offensive, high-scoring type of team, and it's worth wondering whether the team is changing everything to better suit him.
So far, fans have seen the team replace Turco with Kari Lehtonen, a goalie who can steal a game on his own, but doesn't interact with defenceman and play the puck like Marty did.
If the team actually does replace Modano with a younger, faster player, that is a blatant example of Crawford's style of play being suited by the higher-ups.
As a fan of the team, however, this writer hopes this is not true. With forwards like Brendan Morrow, Steve Ott, and James Neal, who all fit into the grinder role, and defencemen such as Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, and Nick Grossman, the team would need an absolute makeover to fit into the look that Crawford has had with past teams.
Now, it's obvious that this makeover won't happen in one year's time, so why could the Stars have not held off the signing of one or two younger guys, and given Modano his final year with the franchise that he is (and likely will be for some time) the face of.
Bourque didn't look good hoisting the Cup in an Avs jersey, Leetch looked just awful in Maple Leaf blue, and Stars fans will cringe when Mikey returns to American Airlines Center for Dallas' home opener.
As a fan of both Dallas and the sport, this writer hopes this move was not done simply to please a coach who has just one year with the team under his belt, and who led them to one of their worst finishes in franchise history.
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