One of the greatest American hockey players is hanging up his skates for good.
Mike Modano announced Wednesday that he is retiring after 21 seasons in the NHL, a career that includes a Stanley Cup championship along with 561 goals and 1,374 points — both of which are records for U.S.-born players.
"It's just time," he said in a phone interview from Dallas, taking a break between playing 36 holes of golf. "I didn't get any calls after July 1 and I figured that was it."
Only it wasn't. Modano said Vancouver assistant general manager Lorne Henning offered him a chance last week to continue his career with the Canucks.
"I told him I had to pass because I hadn't touched a weight or unzipped my bag since we lost in San Jose," he said.
"I know Mike pretty well from our time in Minnesota [in the 1990s] and I kept reading how he wasn't sure what he wanted to do,” Henning told The Vancouver Sun. “So I called him. He said if we talked a month earlier, he'd have had a decision to make, but his mind was pretty much made up. He's a great talent we thought could fit our team.”
Modano ended his career as a banged-up player who had lost a step and his shot during his one-season stint with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. A skate sliced a tendon in his right wrist and limited him to 40 games and career lows with four goals and 15 points with the Red Wings.
In Modano's prime, though, he was among the best hockey players on the planet — shifty, speedy and with a lethal wrist shot, he also played in three Olympics, helping the Americans win silver in 2002.
"His speed was his strength," former NHL player Chris Chelios said. "He had a great shot — hard and heavy — and he was tough to stop once he made a turn and generated speed."
The Minnesota North Stars selected the native of Livonia, Mich., No. 1 overall in 1988 — one spot ahead of Medicine Hat Tigers star Trevor Linden, who went to the Canucks. Following the North Stars' move to Dallas, Modano helped the franchise hoist the Stanley Cup in 1999.
Modano was in his prime when the Stars were among the NHL's elite a decade ago, including a stretch of 34 home playoff games at rowdy Reunion Arena over three seasons from 1998-2000. When the Stars were at their best, Modano was the most popular player on a team full of fan favourites. The success fueled a 238-game sellout streak and a youth hockey boom that led to the Stars building ice rinks all over the heart of football country.
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