Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Modano rumors won't cease, even though they probably should

Despite the fact that earlier this week he publicly said the Phoenix Coyotes would be his first choice should he not return to the Dallas Stars, the rumor mill continues to buzz that Mike Modano is on his way to the Nation's capital this season to suit up for the Senators.

Eklund over at Eklund's Hockey Rumors has said that he's heard from numerous sources that they expect said scenario to happen, and "insiders" on various message boards and weblogs around the web say the same.

Realistically though, looking at the numbers, one would think the deal would be difficult to execute. The Sens have less than $16 million of cap space to work with, and with significant RFAs to sign, it's doubtful they'd have enough left over to sign a player with Modano's believed asking price.

But the better question maybe be, would this move be a smart one for the Senators?

There was a time when a case could be made that Mike Modano was, all around, the best hockey player in the world. His overall game certainly put him among the NHL's elite and like all great players, he often displayed the ability to break open a game.

However, it's wouldn't be wrong to say that the last couple years have not been kind to the former first overall draft pick of the Minnesota North Stars. His last NHL season was not strong, with Modano putting up the lowest point total of his career (excluding the lockout shortened season of 1995), as he finished with 44 points, down more than 30 points from the previous season. His lackluster play was often the talk of the league, and his -21 +/- number told the story of the season. Stars insiders speculated that much of the reason for the sharp decline was Modano's new found status as team captain, a position he inherited when Derian Hatcher bolted to the rival Red Wings in the offseason. It was argued that Modano, who's demeanor is laid back, had difficulty dealing with the pressures that come with being an NHL captain (and the captain of a team expected to contend no less), and that he wasn't cut out for the role.

Modano's troubles didn't end when the Stars got bounced from the NHL playoffs though. He was mediocre for Team USA in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and didn't play especially well in the IIHF World Championships this past spring either.

So the issue then is whether or not Modano's best days are behind him. At 35, he's certainly not getting any younger, and all the signs say that he's on the decline as a top player.

Much of the reason for the Modano-to-Ottawa talk revolves around the perceived need the team has for a #1 center (though it looks like they're going to let Jason Spezza sink or swim in that spot), and it's a legitimate question. But is Modano the answer?

Some have argued that a change of scenary would be beneficial to Modano, allowing him to reignite the competitive juices that seemed to have run out in Dallas. There may be something to that train of thought. It's happened with other players in the past. But in this new NHL, where every dollar counts, such a risk wouldn't be wise, especially for a team like the Senators who already have such little wiggle room to operate due to the players they already have contracted.

So here's hoping this rumor is put to bed once and for all.

In a related bit, it looks as if Stevie-Y won't be coming home after all. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland announced earlier in the week that he intends to have discussions with the team's longtime captain Steve Yzerman about returning to Detroit for one more season. Previously, there had been talk that had Yzerman not returned to the only team who's jersey he's worn, he would perhaps end up playing for his hometown team the Sens (Yzerman grew up in the Ottawa area and still has family here).

Though he too seems to be on his last legs as a player, the positives Yzerman would bring to the team (three Stanley Cups, 15 years as an NHL captain, over 20 years of experience) far outweigh the negatives. Factor in the local connection (something we may be without this season with Todd White's day looking numbered) and it's a no-brainer deal.

Alas, it will have to remain the pipedream of Sens fans everywhere.


At 7:57 AM, Blogger Christy Hammond said...

Yeah Yzerman is staying here in Detroit :) He recently told a Detroit radio program, "The Big Show," in Detroit "I'm not going to play anywhere else. If I don't play for the Red Wings, I'll retire."

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Wow! How old is that Modano picture? ;)

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Roshan said...

Yzerman in Ottawa would have been a huge draw. Without Todd White, u r right, no local player for the Sens. I guess Mike Fisher wud be the closest.


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