I think I’ve been pretty clear how I feel about Mike Modano.
This past season he was again asked to think of the team before himself and again he did. He was moved to the checking line. News articles tried to make him say he didn’t like it, but he didn’t. He understands his role and his skills and his position. He could make a big deal about it and even get Tippett in trouble with Tom Hicks. But he didn’t.
Instead, Mike just elevated the checking line.
He’s been asked to do things for this team that would make players with lesser character demand a trade. Or whine to the media. Or just suck at their job while they pout. Not him.
This season, there’s talk of trying him on the wing on Brad Richards’ line. I don’t know how hard it is for someone that’s played center all his life to switch to wing, but I doubt he’ll have any trouble. He didn’t have trouble learning to backcheck and I bet that’s much more difficult.
The playoffs really perked Modano up. The first-round exits leading up to this past post-season were certainly wearing on him. A little playoff success kept hockey fun for him and he didn’t have to take any time to decide if he should retire.
I hope he doesn’t retire any time soon. He’s still got at least three good years left, barring injury, of course. Even if he “loses a step” he’s still way ahead in steps. I think as along as he’s feeling good and having fun, he’ll stay. And I don’t predict that he’ll do anything classless, like leave the team hanging for half the season while he makes up his mind.
Mike’s long been one of the best defensive forwards in the league. Why he has never been nominated for a Selke award is beyond me. He’s also obviously been one of the best forwards of any kind in the league over the course of his career. I don’t look forward to losing him to retirement one bit.
I’m going to pay special attention to Mike this season and try to enjoy him while he’s here. I love that guy.