FORT WORTH, Texas – Mike Modano woke up many mornings this season feeling good and wondering why he would think about retiring. Other days, the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history was sure he was done.
A week after the end of his 20th full NHL season, and with his contract with the Dallas Stars expiring, Modano said he plans to take some time before deciding whether to retire or play another season. He is also part of a group seeking ownership of the Stars, who are being sold by Tom Hicks’ financially strapped Hicks Sports Group.
“It’s really hard, I’m really kind of on the fence right now,” Modano said Sunday about his playing future. “It’s tough. And then you watch some of the playoffs, watch some of those games and it’s like those are the things that you miss.”
The Stars missed the playoffs for the second season in a row, the first time that has happened since relocating from Minnesota 17 years ago.
“That’s the hard part. You leave on a real bad taste in your mouth about how we played,” Modano said. “That too is a real motivating factor because you hate to end on that type of note. You like to go in the playoffs, make a good run and have some excitement. … But then you have a type of run like that and you’re like, ‘Hey, let’s do it again next year.'”
Modano was at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, where he was scheduled to drive the pace car before the start of the rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
While pondering his playing future, Modano can relate to the yearly drama surrounding what decision NFL superstar quarterback Brett Favre will make.
“He still feels he can throw and obviously he can,” Modano said. “So I can see why we at this time get real wishy-washy about what we’re going to do.”
Modano needed only a month last summer to decide he was coming back to play another season. But he had a guaranteed contract then.
This time, Modano doesn’t have a contract for the following season and has yet to discuss one with general manager and former teammate Joe Nieuwendyk.
“That will be something that’s down the road as well. There’s no rush to decide on that,” Modano said. “I think Joe’s kind of given me the leeway to kind of take my time and make a good decision and come back and talk to him a few times, see how they feel. … I’ve known Joe for years and he’s been really honest and open about the whole scenario, so that’s been nice.”
The No. 1 overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, Modano was the last player remaining on the Stars from when the team moved south.
In 1,459 career games, Modano has 557 points and 802 assists for 1,359 points, all team records. He had 14 goals and 16 assists this season.
But Modano isn’t expected to be the team’s primary scorer any more. Brad Richards was seventh in the NHL with 91 points, and players like Loui Eriksson and Mike Riberio are capable of scoring as well.
“The pressure to kind of be the main guy … is far gone,” Modano said. “So you just try to be a competitive guy, a little piece of the puzzle now and help contribute in any way you can.”