-- Any apprehensiveness that Mike Modano
felt in his return to American Airlines Center wearing a Detroit Red Wings
jersey was put to rest 6:48 into the first period with a simple message on the video board.
"Thank you, Mike."
As expected, the Dallas Stars
' faithful stood and applauded the man who not only played a key role in the indoctrination of professional hockey to the Lone Star State during his 20 seasons with the franchise, but the building of a Stanley Cup champion in 1999.
The salute occurred immediately following Modano's third shift of the game alongside Detroit linemates Jiri Hudler
and Dan Cleary. The trio generated the first two shots on goal by the Wings and, in classic Modano fashion, generate a buzz throughout the arena.
The ovation lasted for approximately 45 seconds and, throughout, Modano keep looking up at the scoreboard to acknowledge those in attendance. In addition to the Wings' players and coaches, those on the Stars' bench also joined in the tribute.
Wings coach Mike Babcock actually started Modano's line to open the game -- Dallas' first home game of the 2010-11 season. While he didn't generate a shot in the first period, he was extremely active and aggressive during his 4:35 of ice time on six shifts.
Modano, the fourth-oldest player in the League at age 40, resembled a 20-year-old rookie in the midst of the cheers and chants from both Stars and Wings' fans in attendance. During pregame warmups, his jersey was rippling in the breeze with each stride, just as current Stars captain Brenden Morrow
said it would.
"He's 40 but looks like he's in his 20s," Morrow told the media Thursday morning. "He brought skill and excitement and had the talent. He'd skate with that jersey flapping behind him; he was a big part in all the success this franchise has had."
And the fans didn't forget.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale