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No one is a winner: Thoughts on today’s Mike Modano news

Image (1) Modano7-thumb-200x300-14772.jpg for post 2343

I’ve held off from commenting on this subject today, because I feel that perhaps I’d be too emotionally vested in the story to be as objective as possible.

That didn’t last very long, however, as I have to share my thoughts on the subject. I’ll be as brief as I can, and try not to let my emotions get in the way.

There’s no doubting that Mike Modano is the reason I became a hockey fan. When hockey first came to North Texas, Modano was the face of the franchise and the player used to sell the sport to the locals. He was good looking, he was charismatic, and he was an incredible player.

I’m not going to go into a Mike Modano career retrospective, but there are countless moments throughout his moments that will always stick in my mind.

After watching how the Dallas Stars fans gave Modano such a great send-off at the end of the season, I internally hoped with all I had that Modano would decide to retire. That it would be his decision, that he would make the decision as quickly as he could, and that moment at the AAC is what we all remember.

Instead, Modano took his time making a decision and the Stars were forced to act. It wasn’t the most desirable outcome, but one we all knew was coming. The sense coming from the Stars at the end of the season and the past few months was that Dallas would be moving on without Modano, and now that the day is here it’s a tough, tough pill to swallow.

Fans are wont to blame Joe Nieuwendyk or the ownership situation, but there’s plenty of responsibility for this to go around -- including with Mike Modano. He certainly deserves the chance to make his own decision on whether to return to playing hockey or not, but he put the team in a tough situation by not making a decision over the past few months. With free agency looming, Nieuwendyk was forced to make the hardest decision of his short tenure and be the first to act.

We knew this was coming, but today the Stars made it official -- no matter what, Mike Modano will not be with the Dallas Stars next season.

Talking to ESPN Dallas, Modano said that he’s disappointed in the decision finally being made:

“I always thought there would be an outside chance of something happening here,” Modano told ESPN Dallas on Tuesday afternoon. “The dialogue that Joe and I have had going on for about a month and a half led me to believe I needed to prepare for things not happening. But when it’s here and reality sets in, it’s disappointing. I didn’t think it would happen. I was told some years ago that I’d be able to decide when I wanted to stop playing. But that was verbally and things change.”

He would go on to say, that even now, he’s still unsure of whether he wants to play next season. With the ownership situation in flux and the team facing tough financial restrictions, Joe Nieuwendyk had to be the first to act.

Brad Gardner at Defending Big D called it a “lose-lose” situation, and there’s no other way to put it. The Stars at some point had to move forward, even if Mike Modano is still a capable player. Nieuwendyk is having to do some incredible spin-control with this, doing his best to publicly praise Modano and invite him back. This is one of those cases where it was purely a business decision, but one that felt entirely too personal for every Stars fan out there.

Some fans were calling today’s decision “classless” by the Stars, and that there was a better way to go about it. The team put together an incredible tribute to Modano at the end of the season and spearheaded perhaps the best final game with a team a player has ever had. Short of launching a parade and unveiling a Mike Modano statue in Frisco, there wasn’t going to be much the team could do to make this look any better.

No matter how you feel about, there is no doubting this: this is truly the end of an era as Mike Modano, after 20 years with the team that drafted him, will no longer be with the Dallas Stars as a player. As a hockey fan and a Dallas Stars fan, that thought makes me incredibly sad and emotional.

No more one-timers from the circle.

No more jerseys waving in the wind behind him.

No more of that customary smile we see when he scores, or the determination we see on his face when things get tough.

No more #9.