It's one thing to accept that the most popular player in your franchise's history will no longer be with the franchise because the NHL is, above all else, a business.
So Dallas Stars fans have had some time to come to terms with Mike Modano's(notes) departure. But accepting the sight of that player in another sweater is on a different level of psychological torment.
And, since these aren't exactly lottery teams: Potentially seeing Modano raise the fracking Cup with them? There isn't enough Shiner in the ice bucket back in Texas to soothe that pain.
Yet it could happen.
Modano is expected in Detroit on Tuesday to hang with Red Wings management and check out a Tigers game. From the Freep:
If the Wings have their way, Modano's visit will lead to him signing a contract with them. "We badly want him," senior vice president Jimmy Devellano said Monday.
Modano, from Westland, has spent the past 16 seasons in Dallas. He was drafted by the franchise, then in Minnesota, first overall in 1988. At 40, he is debating whether to play on -- and whether to do so in Detroit. The Stars have told the unrestricted free agent they won't re-sign him.
Modano has liked what he's heard so far from Holland and coach Mike Babcock. "Ken had shown a lot of interest. It's been exciting talking to him and getting his whole feel on the thing," Modano said. "It's just a matter of with me, I'm trying to process whether or not to play."
The Chief at A2Y (and welcome back, sir) believes the visit will end with a contract for Modano, who still isn't exactly the right fit from salary-cap perspective. (Hence the wine and dine to convince him to drop the price?)
The Red Wings also aren't the only ones vying for his services. John Shannon of Sportsnet (via George Malik) reports that four teams are after Modano. One of them might be the defending Stanley Cup champions, as the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh discovered and opined about this week:
Modano admitted he hasn't heard from the Hawks directly yet but believed the salary-cap tumult that has occupied Bowman's agenda took priority over filling the third and fourth lines.
"I'd like to see what kind of wiggle room they have left under the salary cap, if they can fill that third- or fourth-line void and see how I would fit in with those guys," said Modano, the all-time leader in goals (557) and assists (802) among U.S. players. "They have a great nucleus of kids. So there is a lot of interest there. Obviously, coming off the type of year they've had there's a lot of excitement for anybody who has Chicago on their list of options."
The Hawks could use some excitement themselves. The comeback to every lament over the exodus of players can't be, "Gee, wasn't the parade cool?" for much longer.
Again, either option is likely far behind "retirement" as a palatable one for Dallas fans. If he's a Red Wing or a Blackhawk (or, really, on any other conference rival they've ever seriously loathed), the best they'll be able to muster is "be happy for Modano because Modano is happy."
And if he's half as happy as the last well-liked member of the Stars who was jettisoned ended up being, then it's only going to get tougher to watch for Dallas fans.