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Mike Modano is finally getting his statue in Dallas
On the Stars No. 9 and how we balance post-playing career decisions.
Mike Modano is finally getting his statue in Dallas.
On March 16, 2024 the Stars will unveil a statue of the franchise icon across from the Dirk Nowitzki statue on Victory Plaza outside the arena.
For everything Dirk meant to the Mavericks, Modano was his equivalent as a player on the ice.
Two Hall-of-Famers that defined franchises, one saving it from obscurity on the court, the other carrying the mantle of an entire sport when the Minnesota North Stars re-located to Dallas.
Without Modano and his prowess, and willingness to be the marketing face, the Stars likely wouldn’t have lasted in Dallas.
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But playing careers and post-playing endeavors don’t always fall in line, which is why it’ll have been 14 years since Modano’s last game in Dallas and the time his statue is finally unveiled.
While the nature of the NBA allowed Nowitzki to play and fade into obscurity at the end of his career — you can sign human victory cigars if you want to — the NHL isn’t as forgiving to aging players who have slowed down, they have to play.
The Stars needed to move on from Modano after the 2009-10 season, his play had fallen off and then Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk had to play the bad guy and inform Modano, and Stars fans, that it was time to move on.
Modano’s signing with Detroit had nothing to do with Dallas or spite, that’s a false narrative. It had always been driven behind money and the ability to play for his hometown team — remember, players were fans before they were ever pro athletes and Modano was a Red Wings fan as a child.
Modano reconciled with the Stars, he became a senior advisor to the team, but it was more of a ceremonious position. He wanted to live in Arizona, which is his right, and support his wife’s LPGA aspirations. While he was a face the Stars used to promote off-ice endeavors, he wasn’t heavily involved nor interested in doing much of the legwork required for someone who was supposed to support the business side of the organization.
It’s the polar opposite of the amount of work that Marty Turco has done as an ambassador and leader for the Stars organization since his retirement. If anything, we should be talking more often about Turco’s off-ice transition to community and hockey leader.
But for Modano it was ceremonious and nothing more, and when the Stars asked if he’d do more, No. 9 essentially picked family over hockey.
Yes, Modano held a slightly public grudge that the organization didn’t bend over backward to make both work for him. But in the end Modano and the Stars were never an ideal match for his post-playing career.
The Minnesota Wild were, plain and simple. The Wild allowed Modano to live in Arizona and Park City, Utah until he felt it was time to move to Minnesota. Throughout the whole process, the Wild have given Modano more input into on-ice and off-ice decision making than the Stars ever would have or should have.
Modano played a huge role in helping the Wild land Bill Guerin as the GM. Stars owner Tom Gaglardi would never give Modano that type of power. And after the Stars GM debacle with Brett Hull for a couple seasons, the franchise couldn’t afford to simply give someone executive power because they happened to be pretty good on the ice.
So the Stars and Modano needed some mutual healing in their relationship, but they also were never going to be perfect dance partners at this stage in their lives.
That’s ok, and a statue, even if it feels a bit late, doesn’t change that. Modano can work for the Wild, and it doesn’t change how he launched an entire hockey community in Texas.