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Friday, July 16, 2010
Babcock: Modano to Wings likely

ESPN.com news services

Mike Modano may be heading home.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com on Friday that he firmly believes the Michigan native will sign with Detroit.

"This is a no-brainer for Mike Modano -- the highest scoring American player of all time to come back to your hometown, play in Hockeytown," Babcock said, according to the Website. "It's not about the cash, it's about the legacy and the fit. He'll fit and he'll be excited to play. I look forward to him signing. I think that's inevitable. I think that's what is going to happen."

Modano has spent his entire 20-year career with the Stars, first in Minnesota and then with Dallas. But the team decided not to bring him back for a 21st season after the 39-year-old slipped to 30 points in 59 games last season.

Babcock met with Modano in Detroit earlier this week and felt that the player's mind was pretty much made up, but the coach did say "I've been wrong" before. The Sharks and Wild have also reportedly been in the hunt for Modano.

And the coach doesn't just think Modano will be around for only one year. He can picture him spending the next couple of years in Detroit. Babcock has also thought about how he would use him -- centering the third line with Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler on the wings.

That kind of depth, Babcock believes, will help the Wings bounce back from a disappointing 2009-10 season. They finished fifth in the West and lost in the conference semifinals to San Jose. The upstart Chicago Blackhawks won the division and ultimately the Stanley Cup.

"Chicago's going to be thinner as we all know and I think we're going to be better," Babcock said, according to NHL.com. "I like what has happened for the Red Wings as far as the dispersal of talent goes in the Western Conference."