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Emotional ending to a great night in Dallas

Image (1) Modano5-thumb-250x166-8941.jpg for post 776

You couldn’t have scripted a better ending.

I’m not going to take up a lot of space tonight talking about what a great game just took place in Dallas, but I do want to point out just how special a night it has been.

A lot of the focus was on Mike Modano tonight, but it was also the last game at home for Marty Turco who is likely to leave the team via free agency this summer. It could also be the final home game for long-time Dallas Stars forward Jere Lehtinen. Three fixtures on the Dallas Stars all playing in what is likely their final game at home in front of a boisterous, loud and incredibly emotional Stars crowd.

And emotional it was. With just over five minutes remaining, the game paused as the arena, the crowd, and the two teams all paid tribute to greatest player in the history of American hockey. It was a rousing ovation, as Modano sat on the bench fighting back the tears. Eventually emotions overcame him, and the gratitude and sadness on his face ensured there were no dry eyes among the 18,000+ fans in attendance.

It was perhaps the most emotional moment I’ve ever experienced as a hockey fan, and it got even better as the game wore on.

Modano scored the game-tying goal with just over a minute remaining when he masterfully tipped in a shot from the point. There was some question as to whether it was played with a high stick, but Toronto gave Modano his goal.

The game would go into the shootout, with Mike Modano scoring on a scorcher of a shot. Marty Turco made two great saves and then Jere Lehtinen scored the game winning goal in the final round of the shootout.

As Turco, Lehtinen and Modano saluted the the home crowd as the three stars of the game, it was a fitting and emotional end to one hell of a great era in hockey. As Darryl Reaugh rightfully said during the broadcast, if anyone ever doubts whether hockey works in Texas needs to look no further to how emotional the end of that game was. Every fan in that arena cheered on those three players until being forced to leave.

Mike Modano hasn’t decided whether he’ll retire or not, but I don’t see that there is any better way for him to bid farewell to the city of Dallas and the NHL. There was a sense of finality to the game, and the way the game was played and the way it ended was the perfect exclamation point on one hell of a career.

Modano can still play the game of hockey, and there’s no doubt that physically he can still be effective next season. The Dallas Stars will have a hard time deciding whether they want him back, and I doubt that if Modano returns he’ll do it for any team other than Dallas.

What a night for Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars.