Mo’s Gonna Retire…

          Sad Stars game last night, it appears likely that Mike Modano is going to retire, along with Lehtinen, and probably Turco will be waived in the off-season. They certainly made a big enough deal out of it in the production of the game to suggest that. Pretty awkward in the case of Turco, since there has only been rumor that he will be waived or traded, but last night they basically ceremonialized his departure. Kudos to him for grinning and bearing it so as not to take away from Mo & Lehtinen’s moment, he did not seem very comfortable with the situation.

          A slideshow of photos and video of Modano, Lehtinen and Turco ran until the game started. Mo got a standing ovation when he came out for the pre-skate, then again when he was announced in the lineup, then around midway through the third period he got another standing ovation when he was shown on the jumbotron sitting on the bench. All the players on the ice and Anaheim’s bench stopped and clapped or tapped their sticks on the ice, and Modano shed a few tears and waved to the crowd.

          Pretty touching moment, I think it’s safe to say that outside of Roger Staubach, Mike Modano is our most beloved metroplex athlete, eclipsing even Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith. If it turns out that last night was his last homegame, it was a fitting end, I mean besides the failed run for the playoffs.

          Modano & Lehtinen assisted Jamie Benn’s goal to tie the game at 1-1, then Mo tied the game with 1:47 left in regulation on a beautiful (if questionable) deflection of Trevor Daley’s shot to tie the game at 2-2.  Overtime came and went and in the Shootout, Brad Richards, representing the young new blood of the Dallas Stars, gets stonewalled on the first shot.  Turco stones the Duck’s shooter, then Mo scores the deciding goal with a wicked top left corner snap-shot that rang off the crossbar (I highly recommend a listen to the broadcast HERE), then his friend and co-possible-retiree Jere Lehtinen scored the clincher, and his friend and co-not-gonna-be-here-next-year-guy Marty Turco stoned both Duck’s shooters for a Stars win.

          Beautiful end brought to you by 3 guys who gave a lot to this city, another reason I feel like Mo will retire, it’s hard to imagine a higher note to go out on.

          In any sport it’s an incredibly rare thing for a career spanning 20 plus years to be played entirely with one franchise. It’s difficult to quantify the loyalty that requires, Modano has been one of the most sought after players in the NHL since he stepped on the ice in 1989 and since he scored 50 goals in his first year in Dallas. He is also single handedly responsible for hockey in the South. The Stars success in Dallas lays solely at his feet, and that success is the reason for the existence of teams like Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Phoenix.  The game of hockey and the people of Dallas owe him a debt of grattitude.

          My good friend and old teammate Danny and I got pretty good seats for the game last night, and I am grateful to have been there it was a very special event.  Lots of tears in the audience, including Danny who openly wept in a high pitched voice.  I ran through a lot of memories – my first game in 94 (Vs Vancouver when Bure was in his prime), the ref at their open practices who appeared to be 4 ft tall, the late 90’s Playoffs series’ Vs the Oilers, the 99 Playoff series Vs the Avalanche, the 99 Stanley Cup win, the Parade, the 2000 Stanley Cup loss, The Olympics, on the glass for two of his hat tricks, his 1000th point game, All-Star Games.  From 1998 to 2002 I watched almost every Stars game, I missed less than 20 I would guesstimate.  He was always the most exciting player on the ice to watch, maybe a tie with Federov as the best skater the game has ever seen, and he’s the highest scoring American player of all time.  Say it ain’t so Mo!  It makes me sick to my stomach to imagine the team without the guy.

          Not to ignore Lehtinen, who also spent his entire carreer with the Stars since he was drafted in 1995, and is a perennial Selke award winner/nominee and widely considered the best and most consistent defensive forward ever to play.  Lehtinen and Modano are the only two players left from the 99 Stanley Cup team, they will be sorely missed.

          On a more positive note, Danny tells me there is talk of Modano, Hull and Gretzky forming a group that will buy the Dallas Stars from the embattled current owner Tom Hicks. 

          I hope it’s not your last game fellas, but if it is THANK YOU for everything. Two more years!!


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