Modano, Red Wings agree to 1-year deal
Veteran centre could top $1.5M US in earnings with incentives next season
Ken Holland believes NHL greybeard Mike Modano has at least one good NHL season to offer.
The longtime Detroit Red Wings general manager signed the former Dallas Stars centre to a one-year contract Thursday that reportedly could see Modano earn more than $1.5 million US, including incentive bonuses.
"I was leaning toward retirement after the last two years took a lot out of me," Modano said Thursday night from Dallas. "But the Red Wings convinced me that a change of scenery would be good for me, and that helped me get my drive and passion back."
Detroit will hold a news conference Friday at 2 p.m. ET in the Olympia Club of Joe Louis Arena.
"I think it's going to be a great fit for him and for us," Holland said. "There's not going to be pressure on him to carry the team."
The 40-year-old Modano is expected to centre the third line between Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary and play on the power play.
He is coming off his lowest-scoring season since 1995. He had 14 goals and 30 points in 59 games, fading to being a fourth-line centre with the Stars.
"His role was diminishing in Dallas and sometimes that's hard to accept as a player," Holland said. "We think he can still skate and contribute. Mike Babcock and I met with him after he became a free agent July 1, and told him we wanted him to be a No. 3 centerman with a chance to grow into a bigger role.
"I think it will energize for him to come home, where his parents still live, and it'll be great for us to have one of the greatest American players ever."
Minnesota and San Jose wanted Modano, too, but he was swayed by talking to Brett Hull, along with other former and current Red Wings.
Modano, with 1,459 NHL regular-season games under his belt, should be an instant hit with fans, given he grew up in Livonia, Mich.
Modano played 20 seasons for the Minnesota North Stars-Dallas organization, but GM Joe Nieuwendyk — a friend and former teammate of Modano's — announced on June 29 that the former wouldn't be offered a contract.
The face of a franchise that proved hockey could thrive in the South, Modano figured all along the Stars weren't planning to bring him back for a 21st season. But he said he held out hope the team would decide otherwise.
Modano has said it didn't seem right to play for another team, but he wanted to try.
"I think that it does give me a little fire inside to go out to play somewhere and really have a great going-out year," Modano said in June at a news conference.
Modano, the highest-scoring American-born player in NHL history, is the Stars franchise record holder in goals (557), assists (802), points (1,359), and games.
He helped lead the franchise to its lone Stanley Cup win in 1999 — scoring 23 points in 23 games — and back to the finals in 2000. Modano also recorded 23 points in the 2000 playoffs.
The eight-time all-star debuted in 1989 when the franchise was still located in Minnesota, and was named runner-up in the Calder Trophy race as top rookie.
Modano has a wealth of international experience. He represented the U.S. at three Olympic Games — 1998, 2002 and 2006 — winning a silver medal in 2002 at Salt Lake City.
Modano also donned the red, white and blue three times at the world championships (1990, 1993, 2005), two World Cups (1996, 2004), the 1991 Canada Cup and world junior championships in 1988 and 1989.
Dallas's home opener is Oct. 14 against Modano and the Red Wings. Modano's jersey with a winged wheel will not be No. 9 — the number he's worn — because it was retired by the team long ago to honour Hall of Famer Gordie Howe.
"I've worn No. 9 since I was about nine, but I wasn't about to ask Gordie to take his number out of the rafters for me," Modano said. "I'm going to wear No. 90 for the Wings."