Friday, September 23, 2011
Mike Modano makes retirement official
By Richard Durrett ESPNDallas.com
DALLAS -- As Mike Modano took one last look at his written remarks before going on stage for his retirement news conference Friday afternoon at the Ritz-Carlton, he knew he was going to have trouble holding back tears.
Modano sat on stage by himself as Stars play-by-play announcer Ralph Strangis read off a litany of impressive numbers.
Then a video played, including footage from Modano's early years and an interview following his selection by the Minnesota North Stars as the top overall pick in the 1988 draft as a teenager -- an interview that included a lot of "you knows" that made Modano chuckle.
But there he was, sweater swaying as he skated around players as if they were standing still. So many goals, so many assists, so many memorable moments.
Mike Modano wiped away tears as he discussed his retirement from hockey on Friday.
The video showed him holding the Stanley Cup aloft, talking with former coach Ken Hitchcock and, of course, wiping tears away after his final home game in April 2010.
Back when Modano was that teenager still getting used to doing interviews, the idea of a news conference like the one he held Friday was completely foreign. At that time, Modano figured retirement would never come. Veteran players told Modano to enjoy the ride more.
"They told me it would be over soon," Modano said. "I said, 'You're 35 and old and out of the game soon so why would I listen to you?' They were right."
Then came all of the thank-yous. Modano, now 41, struggled to even get the words out. He thanked players, coaches, front-office folks and fans in Minnesota, Dallas and Detroit.
As he did so, many members of the current Stars were sitting in the front row, and many of his former teammates, too.
His mom, Karen, and dad, Mike Sr., watched as well. Then, when Modano started to thank them, Karen couldn't stay in her seat any longer.
"I had to go up there," Karen said.
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She went on stage and gave Modano a hug as he thanked her for all of the early-morning rides to the rink when he was a kid living in Livonia, Mich.
"Go sit down," said Modano, showing a hint of that teenager who couldn't wait to leave home and play hockey in Canada as a 16-year-old.
Modano's dad came up, too. They embraced. It left those in attendance weepy-eyed, too.
"Thanks for your love and support," Modano said to his parents. "Thanks for the sacrifices you made to give me a life in hockey."
Modano showed appreciation for the Stars fans, who supported him through a 21-season career. He finished the news conference by following his parents off stage.
"I couldn't draw up a better ending than being here in Dallas where home is," Modano said.
He retires as the NHL's all-time leading scorer among American-born players in goals (561) and points (1,374).
He played last season with the Detroit Red Wings, but Friday, he signed a one-day contract with Dallas so he could retire a Star.
He posed for pictures. He also received plenty of hugs and well-wishes from teammates.
"I'm thankful for all of this, but I'm sad it's over," Modano said. "I think you think you can play forever. It's obvious that physically things don't match up anymore."
Richard Durrett covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com.