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Reaching possible end, Modano reflects on start

NHL.com @NHL

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Mike Modano says he's not sure if his career has reached a conclusion.

If this is the end for the 39-year-old stalwart, Modano is finishing up in the same place where he started.

The NHL's all-time leading American-born scorer - who has 557 goals to his name - was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988 and moved with the team to Dallas in 1993. The Stars were in Minnesota on Saturday to wrap up the regular season with a game against the Wild, and Modano was the center of attention.

Modano caught up with former North Stars teammate Neal Broten at Xcel Energy Center before the game and reflected on memories of playing in Minnesota, including the improbable run to the 1991 Stanley Cup finals.

Honored in Dallas on Thursday with several ovations that brought him to tears, Modano was also to be the subject of celebration Saturday with a video tribute.

"Rare and unique," Modano said, reflecting on the opportunity to finish the season here. "A lot of fond memories."

He described his decision as a "tug of war" said he doesn't have a timeline in place yet for making up his mind. Modano's contract is expiring.

"A lot of people have said to keep going and go as long as you can, but sometimes the scenario and the situation isn't such," Modano said. "Those factors will be played out as the summer goes on. It's hard to make those decisions right now. I need some time, I think."

The North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993 and stripped the "North" from the nickname, angering Minnesota hockey fans who went without a pro team until the Wild joined the NHL in 2000. Modano kept on going, though, matching his career-most 93 points in the final season in Minnesota with another 93 points in the first season in Texas.

He scored a career-high 50 goals that season, forever endearing himself to a fan base obsessed with football in a place where most ice is used to keep drinks cold, not so much for skating.

Former North Stars official Lou Nanne followed Modano's career from afar and still stays in touch. He remembered hearing about an athlete popularity poll taken a few years after the move that put Modano right up there with Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.

"He has that kind of presence," Nanne said.

That presence is what prompted the North Stars to draft Modano with the first overall pick in 1988. Trevor Linden was also strongly considered, but the Livonia, Mich., native won out.

"He had that flair. He was big. He was fast. He was quick. He had great stick-handling ability. He had a tremendous shot," said Nanne, the general manager at the time of the draft. "He had an excitement about him every time he was on the ice."

The North Stars were struggling at the time, on the ice and at the gate.

"We thought he'd be a great player. We didn't think he'd be this good," Nanne said. "You can't judge an 18-year-old and know he's going to be a Hall of Fame player, but he had charisma and he electrified a crowd. We needed somebody like that who could sell tickets."

After spending the season with his junior team, Modano brought a buzz to Minnesota when he joined the North Stars. Two years later, they were in the Stanley Cup finals.

"It was always the secret hope of mine that Dallas would let him become a free agent, and he'd end up with Minnesota again," Nanne said. "But he's always going to be with the Dallas franchise, and that's the way it should be. There aren't many guys who stay with a franchise forever."

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