Mike Modano made his retirement official last September, and while that may have closed the door on his playing days, it has opened the way for those post-career honors. The first significant one came last week, when USA Hockey announced that Modano was heading to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It was a great call to get from (Senior Director of Communications) Dave Fischer and everybody at USA Hockey, and the conference call we had with the whole group there,” Modano said at a press conference at American Airlines Center on Monday. “It was exciting and a great call to get. I was thrilled and honored about it.”
Humbled, too, Modano said. He will be enshrined along with New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, who was the GM of the 1996 USA World Cup team and 1998 Olympic squad, and Eddie Olczyk, who played in the NHL and for the USA internationally.
“Lou Lamoriello, I thought was in there years ago and who should have been. I didn’t know he wasn’t in there,” Modano said. “Eddie Olczyk, I had a chance to play with him, I think in 1990-91, with some Canada Cup teams. Those are two great guys to go in with.”
Modano played 21 seasons in the NHL and is the Stars’ all-time leader in games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802) and points (1,359). He was a big part of USA Hockey, playing for Team USA at several international tournaments, and helped the U.S. win the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 and take home a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“Being a part of a lot of those national teams was a great experience,” Modano said. “I was very fortunate to be given those opportunities to travel around the world and play hockey in Europe, Russia and places like that.”
And Modano, who is currently working in the front office of the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League, has some interest in staying connected with USA Hockey down the road.
“We’ll see, we’ve had some small talks about that. It’s something that intrigues me a little bit, working with younger kids in maybe the World Juniors or the Under-18 teams,” Modano said. “That’s always rewarding when you can pass on a little bit of knowledge to some up-and-comers. There’s a great crop of USA players going through the league right now. It’s maybe something we can explore.”
But USA Hockey and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame weren’t the only hot topics Monday. There were questions about Modano’s recent comments that he might be ready to take a shot at a comeback to play one more year. The 42-year-old admitted it’s been hard saying ‘so long’ to playing hockey, but did admit it the chances of a return are remote.
Asked if the Stars signing a guy like 40-year-old Jaromir Jagr got him thinking about a return, Modano was quick with a one-liner.
“Out with the older and in with the old?” he quipped.
Then, an explanation of why it was hard to let go. That final season in Detroit, which was derailed by a wrist injury, wasn’t the way he wanted to leave the game.
“I’ve never fully been able close the door on that deal,” he said. “I think my last year in Detroit was a lot of fun, and I wish it ended differently, with the injury and everything that kind of set me back. I wish it would have ended better, and there’s a taste in your mouth about leaving the way it was. It still haunts me.”
And then when asked about how serious he was, Modano admitted the chance of his playing one more time is more likely to be a dream than a reality.
“I don’t know. I’m in la-la land, dreamland, thinking about it. I don’t know. You never know how that would work out. I can’t really see it happening,” he said. “In the back of my mind, I’d love to something work out some way where I could back for a year, but I don’t see it.”
Modano touched on some other topics during his chat with the media Monday. Here are a few highlights.
What he’d be looking for most if he did come back and play again
“One more deep run in the playoffs would be fun. You look at some of the older guys that had some good runs. That’s what you really miss. I’d like to have one more exciting run in the playoffs. Here in Dallas, we had some great playoff runs that were a lot of fun, the atmosphere in this town is something we still talk about.”
His thoughts on Jaromir Jagr signing with the Stars
“I think he was a good idea for Philly last year, the way he played. He was excited to be back in the NHL. It’s another opportunity for him to continue playing. It’s something Dallas definitely needed as far as creativity, maybe some power play personnel with what they got with Jagr and (Ray) Whitney.”
On how much he believes Jagr has left
“His mind for the game is always going to be there, his creativity. We just all feel like we can’t get from Point A to Point B like we did when we were 30. But we can still think the game and if you have guys around you who can think the game and can skate, that’s half the battle. You need some skill guys around you as you get older because you can still pass, shoot and think the game really well.”
His most memorable moments playing for USA Hockey
“The 1996 World Cup was pretty special. The talent we had on that team and to have to win two of three in Montreal was a great thrill. Obviously, 2002 in Salt Lake with Herb Brooks coaching and that gold medal game against Canada. Those two stick out pretty well.”