Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: September 22, 3:21 PM ET
Mike Modano announces retirement
By Richard Durrett
Former Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings forward Mike Modano, the NHL's all-time points leader among U.S.-born players, officially announced his retirement Wednesday.
The 41-year-old decided it was time to end his playing career after 21 years in the NHL, making the announcement on his Facebook page Wednesday, saying: "I've come to the decision that it's time to retire as a player from the NHL."
Modano confirmed the retirement to ESPNDallas.com shortly after that.
"I think I knew in my heart I was done after last season," Modano said. "I had a harder time coming to grips with it than I thought I would. Part of me wanted to play it out and see if anybody had called in July. When that didn't happen, I figured that's pretty much it."
Modano told The Associated Press Wednesday that he recently declined a tryout with the Vancouver Canucks.
"I wasn't working out much. I wasn't skating," he said. "There wasn't motivation to do much. I was traveling and at that point, I said, 'Let's pick a day here and get the thing on the calendar.'"
A news conference announcing Modano's retirement is slated for Friday morning at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas.
"He's a guy I looked up to ever since I came into the league," said Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane. "Before I even played a game in the NHL, he's the first person I met because I did something with him in New York regarding the past, present and future of USA Hockey. It was cool to meet him there when I was 18 years old. He'll always be someone I look up to."
Modano leaves as a soon-to-be Hall of Famer, holding the mark as the all-time points leader and goal scorer among U.S.-born players. The Michigan native was drafted first overall in 1988 by the Minnesota North Stars and became the face of hockey in Dallas when the organization moved to Texas in 1993.
He played his final home game with the Stars on April 8, 2010, scoring the tying and winning goals in an emotional game. He considers it one of his greatest memories of his hockey career.
Modano ended his career as a banged-up player who had lost a step and some zip off his shot during his one-season stint with his hometown Red Wings. A skate sliced a tendon in his right wrist and limited him to 40 games and career lows with four goals and 15 points with the Red Wings.
"He was on the verge of really producing for us before he got injured," former Red Wings teammate Chris Osgood said. "By the time he was able to play, it was too late. But back in the 1990s, few guys could skate and shoot like him. I can still see him flying down the ice, cutting down the lane and snapping off a shot toward the high glove."
Modano said he will do some pregame work for the NHL Network in the coming weeks and hopes to do more as the season progresses. He's already slated to be on the pregame show for a handful of Stars games on FoxSports Southwest, and he'd like to work for the Stars' organization once the ownership situation is resolved.
"Maybe in the PR or marketing side of it," Modano said. "I could maybe help talk to sponsors and work on getting the season tickets back up. When you have a new owner and a new direction and you get the money to do things, you can help build that support back. I'd like to help with that."
Modano wasn't ready to retire last year and signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings. But a wrist injury cost him half of the season and when it was over, he said he had a feeling his career was over.
Modano believes that it's playoff hockey he'll miss the most.
"There's just no other high than the playoff experience and being in the finals or being in those elimination games or knowing the Stanley Cup was in the building," he said. "I'll miss the guys, the locker room, the traveling. It's like a second family. You did a lot with them and accomplished a lot with them and you certainly will remember those great memories with those guys."
Former teammate and current Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said he had several good memories of playing alongside Modano.
"He made me a better player because I wanted to push myself to be a good No. 2 center playing behind him," Nieuwendyk said. "What he's meant for the city and for USA Hockey speaks for itself. In his prime, he was the best player I've played with. He had a wonderful career."
Former Olympic teammate Chris Chelios said Modano's "speed was his strength."
"He had a great shot -- hard and heavy -- and he was tough to stop once he made a turn and generated speed," Chelios said. "He was a great ambassador for the U.S. team."
The executive director of USA Hockey agreed.
"Scores of kids grew up pretending to be Mike Modano, not only in our country, but across the world," Dave Ogrean said. "That fact alone helps frame the enormous impact he's had on the game. His accomplishments on the ice speak for themselves. He's one of our greatest players ever."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman congratulated Modano on an outstanding career.
"We thank Mike for giving National Hockey League fans 21 years of thrills with his speed, his skill, his craftsmanship and his class," Bettman said. "Mike also excelled on the international stage, representing the NHL and USA Hockey with great distinction."
Richard Durrett covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com. Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers, ESPNDallas.com's Mark Stepneski and The Associated Press was used in this report.