Mike Modano: Lockout wasn't worth it

Updated: September 18, 2012, 9:06 PM ET
By Craig Custance | ESPN The Magazine

As NHL players get ready for the potential of another prolonged lockout in their sport, one former star still feels the pain of the last one.

Mike Modano, the all-time leading point scorer among American-born players, estimates the last lockout cost him more than $7 million in salary by sitting out a year. To him, the payoff wasn't worth the sacrifice.

"In hindsight, it wasn't worth it," he told ESPN The Magazine for a story gauging former players' opinions of the last lockout. "It was a waste of time. We thought we were stronger than we were. We started falling apart as the months clicked by."

The Livonia, Mich., native retired last summer after playing in 1,499 career NHL regular-season games, and winning the Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Dallas Stars. He's being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in October and is a lock to earn the same enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame when he's eligible.

Even with all his on-ice accomplishments, losing millions stings.

"It's money you feel you never get back. At some point, we were sold a bill of goods," he said. "Everybody was buying it. Everybody thought, 'Let's not let each other down. Let's do it for the future of the game. Blah, blah, blah.' You're only in the game so long."

The NHL owners locked its players out at midnight Saturday for the third time under commissioner Gary Bettman as both sides continue to fight for an agreeable way to divide record revenues. Modano's advice for players digging in for the fight is to be prepared for disappointment.

"I would say (to them) that it's not a battle you're going to feel like you're going to win," he said. "It's a negotiation. You feel at some point that both sides will be upset about what they have to give up."

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