Why Modano is not Emmitt Smith

I've heard from some of you in our Rangers in-game chats and via email that you don't want to see Mike Modano go anywhere, worried it would be similar to Emmitt Smith's departure to Arizona.

Like Smith, Modano was told by the club that they wanted to move forward with younger players and didn't have a place for him. Smith decided he could still play, went to Arizona and never really found the magic again. Fans sure didn't want to see Smith in anything but a Cowboys uniform and they don't want to see Modano leave either. But I don't think Modano is like Smith for a few reasons. Here are some of them:

* As soon as Smith was released, he said: "I have not thought about retirement." Clearly, Modano has. He's wrestling with it even now. The longtime face of the franchise isn't sure if he wants to go through the grind of an NHL season at 40 years old.

* Smith also said he believed then, at age 34, that he could be a featured running back in the NFL. That would be the equivalent of a first- or second-line center in the NHL. Modano reiterated today that he's not looking for that kind of role. He'll take something less than that if the right situation popped up.

* Since Modano is willing to take a lesser role, there really isn't much doubt that he still has the ability to play. I'm not saying Smith didn't. But his skills in terms of being a starting running back in the NFL had diminished some. Modano certainly has the skills to be a third- or fourth-line center. He can still contribute on the power play. He's still one of the top skater in the league, even if he's not quite as quick as he was a decade ago.

So even though Modano is six years older than Smith, he's in better position to make an impact with another team, in my opinion. He's realistic about what to expect.

But I also believe that Modano knows what it means to be able to say he started and finished with the same organization. It's going to take a special situation for him to play again. And if he does, I think Stars fans will support him when or if he ever returns to American Airlines Center in a different uniform. That's on my mind after spending Tuesday here in Anaheim, Calif., and seeing the nice standing ovation for Vladimir Guerrero when he returned to Angel Stadium for the first time this season wearing a Ranger uniform.

We'll see what Modano wants to do. But the only thing he's got in common with Emmitt Smith is that fans don't want to have to watch him in anything but a Dallas uniform.