Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mike Modano plans to return for 19th NHL season

Questions about father time and retirement talk have begun to creep up on Dallas Stars forward Mike Modano following his team's long playoff run that ended six days ago with a Western Conference Finals loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Modano said he plans to play next season, his 19th in the league. He will celebrate his 38th birthday on June 7th.

Just five days ago, his fellow countryman Jeremy Roenick made the decision to return to the San Jose Sharks for his 20th season at age 38.

Destined to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after he retires, Modano's career began when he was drafted first overall in the 1988 Entry Draft when this franchise was the Minnesota North Stars. He helped lead the team to the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals and then accumulated a career-high 93 points in the 1992-1993 season, the final campaign for the Stars in Minnesota. Modano matched that point total a year later following the franchise relocation to Dallas, a city where he is among the most notable professional athletes to ever play in northern Texas.

Despite the fact the only Stanley Cup championship in franchise history came nine years ago, Modano feels that the Stars have the opportunity to continue making progress in their quest for their second title.

"There was a series of ups and downs and a lot of changes, but to be able to put it together at the end and have the run we had is pretty rewarding," Modano told Ken Sins of "Going into the playoffs, we probably weren't thought of too highly because of the way March ended. But we came back and surprised a lot of people and made it a hockey town again and brought some fans back with a playoff run that's been long overdue."

Modano may not be the prolific point producer that he once was, but he still makes a serious impact on and off the ice. He scored 21 goals and dished out 36 assists for 57 points this season. One night he'll never forget was a milestone he achieved on November 7, 2007 with a two-goal performance to lead Dallas to a 3-1 victory in San Jose. With those two goals, he passed Phil Housley to become the all-time leader for most points by an NHL player born in the United States. Modano now has 1,283 career points in 1,320 regular season games.

He may continue to center one of the top three scoring lines while spending more time in a checking role in key situations, but he knows he can still contribute at a high level and still have fun doing it. With two years left on a five-year contract extension he signed when he was eligible to become a free agent in 2005, he wants to continue to honor that agreement.

"It's a year-at-a-time thing right now," Modano said. "It's been that way for a while. When I signed my five-year deal, I thought I'd finish my five years out and then really take a look at where I'm at."

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