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Modano hints at impending retirement

by Adam Kimelman
Mike Modano said he isn't ready to announce his retirement, but did say during a recent radio interview that he isn't working out for the 2011-12 season and hasn't spoken to any teams about playing a 22nd season.

"I don't know," he said Thursday when asked about his playing future by Dallas radio station 1310 AM. "I think that was the swan song."

Modano, 41, was limited to just 40 games last season due to a serious arm injury. He severed three tendons and a nerve in his right arm during a game Nov. 26 in Columbus when a Blue Jackets player's skate got caught inside his glove. The injury sidelined him three months and scuttled his hopes for a happy homecoming; Modano had grown up a Red Wings fan in Livonia, Mich.

"The injury really was a big buzz kill," Modano said.

He missed three months, and when he returned in March, he had just 2 goals and 4 assists in 18 games. When the playoffs started, he was a healthy scratch for all but two games.

"When I came back in March, there's the heated race for the playoffs, the lineup is almost solidified," Modano said. "And (Wings coach Mike) Babcock is pretty hard-headed when he likes something and it works. It's very hard to change his mind. So I knew I was going to be the odd-man out for the playoffs."

Modano admitted it was hard to watch the Wings sweep the Coyotes in the first round and lose in seven games to the Sharks in the conference semifinals, but said it didn't change the fact that he felt he made the right decision to play for the Wings after spending the first 20 seasons of his career with the North Stars/Stars organization.

"I think I had to do it," he said of playing for his hometown team. "I would have really kicked myself if I didn't take the chance to go there, play in Detroit, play with those players, be around them daily. (GM) Kenny Holland was great, the coaches were great, the Ilitches. Playing in front of the family, being around them all winter long was great. I saw the parents twice a week. I thought if I didn't do it ... I could say I tried it, at least I could say I did it."

If Modano has played his last game, he'll leave the NHL as arguably the greatest U.S.-born player of all-time. His 561 goals and 1,374 points are the most for any player born in the U.S. He ranks 23rd on the all-time NHL list for goals and 22nd in points.

Modano also said he planned on making the Dallas area his permanent home, and said he hoped someday to be involved with the Stars' organization. He said he has had talks with one group currently negotiating to buy the team, but said he has no interest in coaching or working as a general manager.

"Some guys are built for that job," Modano said of being a GM. "From the outside it looks great, it's a nice job and you're paid good, but there's a lot of work to it, and there's a lot of hours spent and a lot of guys you need to answer to. ... In Detroit, being around Kenny, knowing (Steve) Yzerman a bit, seeing how things unraveled with Brett (Hull) here, you watch and learn a little bit.

"I've talked to the guys who are interested in buying Dallas and we've had some good talks. That's something we could talk about down the road. That would be fun to do."

As for when the next phase of his career would start, Modano said as his parting words, "See you in a couple weeks for the big announcement."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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