"It's 22 years later, and I have a chance to finish where I started. It's a unique situation." - Mike Modano to My Fox Detroit (video)
So the Detroit Red Wings brass wined and dined Michigan native and free-agent center Mike Modano(notes) yesterday, in an effort to convince the former Dallas Stars great to wear the Winged Wheel next season; using the unparalleled allure of live Detroit Tigers baseball to close the deal.
So, how'd it go? Did Mike Babcock's death stare frighten and confuse Mikey, preventing Detroit from becoming a different kind of Mo-Town? Via ESPN Dallas, Modano said "it seems like Detroit or retirement" and explained the visit:
"It's totally up to me," said Modano, 40, who was told by the Dallas Stars last month that they were moving forward without him. "We talked about my situation, what it would be, how I would fit in and the logistics of it all. It was good. We talked about playing at home and having a chance to go deep in the playoffs. I have to figure out what I want to do still. They haven't pressured me into making a decision. But I know the sooner the better for everybody so they can get their financial situation resolved and figured out."
That financial situation is the one that has some Red Wings fans wary about Modano coming to Detroit. Well, that and his place in the lineup, the team's other needs and what number he could possibly hope to wear as a Red Wing. Because No. 9 is, uh, somewhat taken.
What are the financials for Modano? Ansar Khan(!) believes they look like this:
Holland said he has discussed the parameters of a contract with Modano's agent. "We don't have much cap space,'' Holland said. "I've had conversations with his agent with what we can do in regards to money.''
The Red Wings are expected to offer a one- or two-year deal worth between $1 million and $1.5 million a season.
Cap Geek has the Wings with $4.5 million in cap space, but that's with Andrea Lilja, Justin Afrogator, Darren Helm(notes), Derek Meech(notes) and Patrick Eaves(notes) still unsigned. The Production Line feels they'll have the space for Modano:
As a reminder, teams may go over the cap by 10% (an additional 5.94M) until the final day of the pre-season, so the Wings will have plenty of space to work with and figure out who makes the roster and who doesn't. Patrick Eaves, Justin Abdelkader(notes), and Darren Helm are -- theoretically -- in line to fill those final three forward slots, with Mike Modano putting them one over the roster limit. Mattias Ritola(notes) is on a two-way deal, but cannot be sent down to Grand Rapids without being waived.
So it's a numbers game now. Matt Saler of On The Wings notes that Detroit is still looking for a veteran defenseman and will have "$1.2 million plus either $.650 or $.517 million" after roster tweaks to get one if Modano signs.
Babcock's Death Stare (great name) wonders if "Ken Holland is just playing some sick game to see how many players he can get and still be under the cap," and sees the typical Wings' ratio of 8 defensemen/13 forwards out of whack right now. BDS has a very detailed rundown on the Wings' roster options, including:
Scenario 4: You keep 15 forwards and six defenseman (it's not unheard of, and plus, sorry, but someone's going to get hurt eventually and skew those numbers). It will probably hurt you on West Coast trips (if the team is healthy) but both Janik and Smith are just a 2.5 hour drive away if you need a useful defenseman for a home game.
Is my point proven yet? This ended up way longer than I thought it would, but only because I read another piece which seemed to imply without implicitly saying it that signing Modano is just sentimental garbage that is going to screw this team over. If anything, it's giving them more options. I just don't get it how you can't see otherwise.
Cap and roster concerns aside, the majority of Wings fans are down with Modano coming aboard, including the Chief from A2Y:
So I'm on board if the smart guys and the money man all tell me I should be. I'm in because I really, really like the idea of Mike Modano between Happy and Cleary. I like him on the PP and I like him in the room. I like him playing one more for one more Cup and doing it in a place he feels comfortable, even if it's a place that has caused him some serious pain over the years. No, I'm not concerned about what this does to our future.
What could he give the Red Wings? Ryan Dixon offered a tantalizing comparison in The Hockey News:
At this point in his career, Modano is to NHL teams what spandex is to fashion; definitely not for everybody, but a fantastic fit for a select few. Put the Red Wings on that list.
Modano would slide into the Wings' No. 3 center hole, where he would be expected to play an efficient two-way game while churning out modest offensive totals.
How does 43 points sound? That's exactly what Larionov contributed to Detroit in each of the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons while averaging about 14 minutes per game over that span.
So he'll fit financially. He'll fit the roster. He'll give the Wings some valuable contributions. Seems like if Modano decided to become a Red Wing, everything's kosher, right?
Ah, yes: The question of a number.
Winging It In Motown notes that Modano's No. 9 is Gordie Howe's No. 9 in Detroit. If he wanted to add a "1" to it ... well, that's Stevie Y's No. 19. You'd figure Sergei Fedorov's(notes) No. 91 is off the table. Move up to 10? Sorry, that's Alex Delvecchio.
Maybe Afrogator will give up No. 8 ...
Stick-taps to Michael C., Kevin C. and Eric S. for the story tips.