For the second time this offseason, we've seen an NHL team use its official website to explain its actions in announcing the departure of a beloved veteran player.
The San Jose Sharks meticulously explained the financial considerations behind their decision not to re-sign goalie Evgeni Nabokov(notes); Tuesday, the Dallas Stars did much of the same in announcing the end of franchise legend Mike Modano's(notes) run with the team.
Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said they have the "utmost respect" for Modano, who is the "face of the franchise" and a "great teammate" and a "great person." The Stars "support his wishes" if Modano decides to sign with another team; how kind of the franchise that's terminating his employment to support him in his job hunt.
But mostly, Nieuwendyk had to use this opportunity to soothe Stars fans who envisioned Modano playing in Dallas until he decided to retire, which is something he's currently still deciding.
What do you say to fans that may now have to stomach seeing Modano skate in the sweater of a hated conference rival?
"I truly understand how the fans feel about Mike and we all appreciate what he has done for this franchise," he said. "But all players have to face this day; Emmitt Smith is a perfect example, as is Joe Montana, Troy Aikman or Ray Bourque."
Nicely played on the Emmitt Smith front: Choosing a player who left Dallas and then played two unspectacular seasons in Arizona ... which, with Dave Tippett out there, could actually become the same fate for Modano. Back to Nieuwendyk:
"I know what Mike is going through. When you turn 40 and you face the end of your playing career, it is very hard to let go. I don't blame him for being undecided and possibly wanting to continue. But this is a hockey decision and we feel it is in the best interests of our roster. I stand by that and I believe that."
Nieuwendyk knows what Modano means to this franchise and said what we all feel. "We wish Mike the very best and thank him for his incredible contributions to the Dallas Stars. There never will be another Mike Modano. It is our goal to have him continue doing great things for this franchise in the front office, and we look forward to making that a reality someday."
The Stars played up the front-office future of Modano fairly strong in their statement, seemingly hoping he'll forego another year of playing for a managerial role.
Nieuwendyk, in speaking with Dallas Stars Blog, reinforced these themes again:
"From a fan's perspective, it's going to be tough no matter what," Nieuwendyk said. "Mike has been such an important part of this franchise ever since we came to Dallas. It was very difficult for Cowboys fans to see Emmitt Smith move on. But Emmitt Smith is always a Dallas Cowboy and Mike Modano will always be a Dallas Star."
"I said at the draft, Scott Niedermayer(notes) was presenting the first rounder a jersey and I wish Mike Modano was there to present Jack Campbell with a jersey. Next year it's in Minnesota, what a great thing that would be. His association with our organization will always be there."
We've been adamant about hoping this was the end for Modano, and continue to hope that this decision by Dallas pushes him closer to making last season's grand finale his exit from the game.
But if he plays on, Modano already cited the Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings as possible destinations. Bruce Ciskie of FanHouse wondered about the PR-coup that would be Mo back in Minnesota:
Is it a good fit, though? Modano turned 40 earlier in June, his points-per-game totals have declined for three straight seasons, and he doesn't appear to have anything close to the ability he had in his prime. The Wild need centers, yes, but do they need a 40-year-old center who might not have the jump to play regularly? For a franchise that isn't exactly crazy with cap room, this doesn't seem like a really good idea.
Even if it'd be a nostalgic kick for the North Stars faithful.