In the ’90s and ’00s NHL, Steve Yzerman and Mike Modano were part of a select few that really embodied their franchise. Modano potentially had the greater challenge, having to endure the transition from hockey-rich Minnesota to barbeque-rich Dallas. For the quarter century that started with Detroit Compuware and ended up back in a Red Wings uniform, Modano symbolized hard work and great skill between the boards. Now, for the first time in his career, Modano will head to Dallas as a visitor with his current Wings squad.
As outsiders we may never truly know what took place between Modano and team management. Brett Hull went from hockey player to co-GM to executive VP in a matter of months and left behind a wake of a mess that took Dallas from perennial contenders to bottom feeders. It also seemed to impact Modano’s career in hockey circles when he wed pop culture icon Willa Ford. Their marriage placed a different light on Modano and it must have been a challenge for Stars management to distinguish the friendship from the business.
Through three games this season, Modano has shown signs of the stardom that made his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame a mere certainty. His goal in the opener brought hope for a team looking to avoid a postseason meltdown. His speed isn’t what it once was, but still very competitive with some of the younger players. Save for a -3 posted against the Avalanche on Tuesday night, Modano could be one of the reasons the Red Wings find themselves on the verge of Stanley Cup glory again in 2011.