The Dallas Stars
have decided not to offer center Mike Modano
a contract for the coming season.
"We have the upmost respect for Mike Modano
," Nieuwendyk said. "He will always be a huge part of this hockey club. He is a great teammate and a great person. Mike is the face of this franchise. That's what makes this decision so hard."
Nieuwendyk and his hockey staff have had many meetings internally over the last few months about the team, roster and identity – for now and moving forward. He has also met with Modano several times to discuss his future since the season ended.
"Mike is unclear on whether he will retire or not, and still may decide to play next season. After assessing our roster and where we need to go as a hockey team, we have decided to not offer Mike a contract and allow him to explore free agency on July 1. If Mike decides that he would like to play with another team, we support his wishes. That's part of the reason behind the timing of this announcement; we wanted to be up-front with Mike and give him the option to explore playing for other clubs on July 1 if he chooses."
Nieuwendyk feels that it is time for the Stars' younger players to take on bigger roles in the forward lines.
"We have a good number of young guys who are hungry and ready for bigger roles on our team. That's a big part of this decision. These players are ready to step up and play important minutes. We need them to continue their improvement and development if we are to get to where we want to be as a hockey club."
Nieuwendyk said that this decision did not come overnight. It was reached after many discussions and reflection.
"This is as tough a decision as a general manager can make, but it comes with the job. I have to put the team first and do what I feel is in best interest of the team. Again, I have the upmost respect for Mike. I spoke with him about this decision yesterday at length."
While Modano's playing days as a Dallas Star are now officially over, Nieuwendyk is very interested in having him involved with the hockey club in the front office.
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