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Unique relationship for Modano, Gagner

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- After 20 years wearing green with the Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars, seeing Mike Modano in red with the Detroit Red Wings takes some getting used to.

Modano, who signed with Detroit as a free agent over the summer, is no stranger to Edmonton Oilers fans after his 16 seasons as a conference foe with Dallas, but the uniform with the winged wheel on the front and No. 90 on the back is a big change.

"I wish he was playing for somebody else, at least tonight," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "It's always unique to see someone who you identify with a particular franchise all of a sudden wearing a different jersey. It's almost surreal, yet we can't stand around and gawk at Mike and think, 'Wow, he looks kind of different in that uniform' as he blows by you."

How long has Modano, who turned 40 on June 7, been around? When the native of Livonia, Mich., was selected by Minnesota with the first pick of the 1988 Entry Draft, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner hadn't been born yet.

Modano, who will face the Oilers tonight with 1,361 points in 1,469 regular-season games, played with Gagner's father, Dave, as a 19-year-old rookie in Minnesota during the 1989-90 season.

"He'd done so much in his career," Sam Gagner said. "He's a guy you can look up to and really respect. I heard a lot of stories about him from my dad. When you think of Modano, you think of the Stars' organization, whether it's Minnesota or Dallas."

Modano scored his second goal this season in a 2-1 win against Calgary on Wednesday. He's the NHL career scoring leader among U.S.-born players, is second to Mark Recchi (1,490) in career points among active players and is 23rd all-time, eight points behind of John Bucyk.

Ageless wonder -- Nicklas Lidstrom, 40, picked up an assist against the Flames and is off to a great start. Lidstrom, a six-time Norris Trophy winner, has 11 assists and 12 points in 10 games, which has him tied atop the points race for NHL defensemen with Dustin Byfuglien and Duncan Keith.

Lidstrom is tied for the lead in team scoring with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Around the rink -- Jiri Hudler, who has sat out the last two games, could get back in the lineup tonight. Coach Mike Babcock said he'd like to see Hudler play, but didn't say what line he'd play on. ... Edmonton's penalty killing has allowed 10 goals in the last six games, including two in a 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday, and is ranked 30th ... Detroit's power play has been uncharacteristically mediocre this season, connecting at just a 16.0-percent clip ... This will be the 109th regular-season meeting between the Red Wings and Oilers, and it'll be a tie-breaker as each team has a 46-46-13-3 record in the series ... The Oilers have lost three straight games at home ... The Oilers won beat the Red Wings twice at Rexall Place last season, both in a shootout.
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