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Stars' Modano says he will be back for a 20th season @NHL

DALLAS (AP) -Mike Modano is coming back for his 20th NHL season.

A month after the Dallas Stars ended their season without a playoff berth, and Modano said he would take some time to ponder if he would retire, the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history said Monday he would play in 2009-10.

"I've made my decision and I'm coming back to play," Modano said in a story posted on the team's Web site. "I think everyone eventually knew I was going to come back, but I still wanted to take some time and think about things. Watching everyone else playing in the playoffs helped push me to make the decision. This is the best time of year."

Modano, who turns 39 next month, is already under contract for $2.25 million next season, the last of a five-year deal. He would have gotten $750,000 if he had decided to walk away.

The No. 1 overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, Modano has spent his entire career with the franchise. He is the only player remaining who moved with the team from Minnesota to Dallas 15 years ago.

Modano had 15 goals and 31 assists in 80 games last season, and his 543 career goals and 1,329 points are tops for U.S. natives. He holds every significant franchise scoring mark and has led the club to three Stanley Cup finals, winning the title in 1999.

"I still feel very good and I continue to keep my body in the best shape possible," Modano said. "I'm looking forward to relaxing a bit this summer, but continuing to work toward the beginning of next season. I'm excited about returning and playing again."

Only four active players have played more games than Modano: Chris Chelios (1,644), Brendan Shanahan (1,524), Mark Recchi (1,490), and Rod Brind'Amour (1,404).

"A part of me wants to keep coming back to play until they tell me they don't want me to come back. I love playing the game." -- Mike Modano

Modano even leaves open the possibility of playing past next season and his 40th birthday.

"I think there's a chance, but I'm going to take this season by season and see how I feel," he said. "A part of me wants to keep coming back to play until they tell me they don't want me to come back. I love playing the game."

The Stars had high expectations last season after reaching the Western Conference finals in 2008. But with a slow start and extended injuries to captain Brenden Morrow, forward Jere Lehtinen, defenseman Sergei Zubov and top-line center Brad Richards, they missed the playoffs for only the third time since moving to Dallas in 1993.

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