So I was unable to go to either Joe or Mike’s respective press conferences. Watched ‘em on dallasstars.com. Spoke to Joe. Traded a text with Mike. Talked to my organizational pals. Like that.
And because of all this running around lately - I haven’t really had the time to let it all sink in. Mike Modano has officially played his last game with the Stars. Didn’t know how that would feel to type it out – but I got through it alright.
I’ve known Mike for over 20 years. Literally watched each other grow up. I know – some would debate that for either or both but let’s not get weighed down here.
What Joe said – “his contributions are immeasurable”. No other way to say it. Can’t measure what he’s done for this team, the game, this city, USA hockey. No way to measure it. No way possible to quantify. None. And no one inside or outside will dispute that. So we’re all on the same page.
Then I get some emails about how can we do this to Mike. Totally understandable. I mean c’mon – if you’re a Stars fan – how can you not be affected by this? And sometimes in my case things can come out sideways but I gotta get it out. So I get it. So when I answer these emails I always begin with something like “part of what Mike helped us do here is create this really passionate fan base – and so thank you for sharing your passion with us”.
Comes a time when everyone’s done. No way around that either. What I’ve seen is generally the guy is the last guy to think it’s time. Can’t blame him for that – sort of Darwinian, hard-wired survival instincts or something. Then add high-achieving world-class rock-star athlete to the mix. Almost always somebody else has to make the call.
You know – I’ve been here a long time. But this job wasn’t created so I can be the Stars play-by-play guy and feel good about myself and go to Vegas with sponsors. I know that. The job exists because the Stars need a play-by-play guy and an ambassador. Some day somebody else will have it. That’s how it works. The wheel turns. That’s the deal.
Here’s what I hope. That if I do keep doing this job for a bunch more years – but then things start to go – you know – eyesight – memory – cadence – timing – sharpness – energy – any or all of the things that I rely on every day. Well if I’m still here and they start going and I can’t do this anymore but I can’t or don’t want to think about that – well here’s what I hope.
I hope that there will be a guy on the airplane and around toward the end who is my friend and who knows exactly what I’m going through because he just went through it. That he’ll talk to me and drop me hints and be there for me when the time comes.
I hope he’s the guy that says to me – “Ralphie – we love ya – and you’ve been a really good guy for us here – and we’ll always work to find a place for you in the organization… but buddy boy – you can’t do play-by-play anymore”.
I know I’d be pissed and hurt at first. Guaranteed. But I also know that I would be so supremely fortunate if I could have a guy there for me like that. Most guys aren’t that lucky. I hope if and when that happens I remember how much better it is for me that it is someone like that and not somebody else who doesn’t know me or understand what I’m going through and doesn’t care anyway.
And I hope I remember that the wheel turns. That’s the deal.