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Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Richards, Ott talk about Modano's exit

By Richard Durrett

Stars forwards Brad Richards and Steve Ott said they understand management's decision to move forward with younger players, but they are going to miss Modano's presence.

"The NHL is getting younger because of budgets and I would imagine if we were on the cusp of a Stanley Cup, things might be different," said Richards via text. Richards led the Stars with 91 points last season. "I think Joe needs to see what these young guys can do and with the ownership problems, he has tough decisions concerning the budget."

Ott said the Stars' roster is full of young players wanting a chance to shine. He included Jamie Benn, James Neal, Loui Eriksson and others in that group.

"It's up to management as to what to do with players," Ott said. "You have to see what they have and what they can do. It’s similar to when Mike was young, He was such a gifted player in his career and he got the chance to be on the power play and be in those roles."

Modano played mainly on the fourth line last season and was on the power play. Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said Tuesday that he wanted to give more of the young players an opportunity to play on the power play and on the top lines. The Stars' depth at center also played a part in the decision, not to mention a tight budget.

Richards and Ott said they learned a lot from playing with Modano, who turned 40 early this month.

"I have watched Mike since I was a young kid and he was always one of the best skaters ever," said Richards, 30. "It seemed that when he had the puck, he was faster. Combine that with his shot, size and hockey sense, he was one of the best of his time."

Ott, who played eight seasons with Modano, said he'll remember practice more than anything else.

"To stand behind him in line during a practice and watch him be able to take off and the speed and fluidness of his skating, I'll never forget that stride," Ott said.

Ott added that Modano's departure impacts more than just the fans.

"Mike was a wonderful teammate, always happy, always joking round and having a good time," Ott said. "He brought that fun attitude to the rink. Those are the type of guys you can go to war with and battle with. He made it fun. That’s why we play this game."