In his first year since retiring from the National Hockey League, Mike Modano says his golf game has improved a little bit.
"When you play so much and play so often you're almost counterproductive," Modano said as he prepared for this weekend's American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Back in 2009 Modano had his best showing at the tournament finishing seventh behind former NHLers Grant Fuhr, Jeremy Roenick and Dan Quinn. "I hadn't played in a while," Modano said. "I think that was the first one I'd be back in here in a long time. I was hitting it good up until that point, just didn't think about it too much, made some putts and that was it."
So how he feeling about his swing heading into this weekend?
"It feels good. It all comes down to the greens and how well you putt on them. They're not the greatest, so it's kind of a guessing game a little bit. You get the speed down good, nice good read on the break you'll be OK, but it's always a challenge."
We spoke with Modano on Wednesday evening about the on-going NHL labor talks, his possible comeback, and "Breaking Bad".
Q. Even though you've been out of the loop for a year now, do you have any kind of inkling on how the CBA talks are going to go?
MODANO: 'By the sound of it, not too good. I think there'll be a delay at the start of the year, kinda looking like it. There's a lot of issues to be finalized. There's some loopholes in the last CBA that they want to get cleared up and get fixed before they move on anymore. The game's flourished and attendance is up and the revenue is up, but it's a little lopsided in the players' favor. I think there's some things that they think need to get readjusted. I'm guessing a delay."
The PA is in a lot better shape this time around. You see some of the names involved in the talks this time around, the PA has done a 180 since 2004 in terms of togetherness.
"Well, it was together; probably just as strong as it was back then when we had the other lockout. I think there was a big crop of guys that were just closing in on the end of their careers that wanted to play and they didn't want to miss a year. And the rules changes came into effect and that kind of pushed out a lot of guys that were bigger and slower and that kind of took them out of the game. But the unity was there. We sucked it up for a year and probably should have been longer if we wanted to get the right thing."
Since the 2004-05 CBA, what's something, in your mind, that needs to change to make things better on the players' end?
"I think the entry level thing was kind of a suspect from the beginning. The ultimate unrestricted free agency, moving it down to 26-27, that kind of backfired on the owners. I think they'd want to move it back up a few years. And then the revenue. It's 57-43 in the players' favor. You saw basketball and football had that issue. That number definitely has to go down if the players want to start on time."
You said you believe the season won't start on time. December 1 has been a date floated out there. How long do you think there might be a stoppage?
"If you had some sort of conclusion by the first week of December, maybe camp starts that first week and you can maybe get a week or two in before the holiday. I'm sure they really want it before that Winter Classic because that's gonna be huge for the game and everything involved in that, so they definitely don't want to bypass that date for sure. That's a big moment for the league."
Every year we hear about the NHL posting record revenues, attendance is up. Does it offend you guys, as players, you hear owners crying foul?
"Well, there's a lot of back and forth. There's such a gray area to what they're making and what the revenue and what they're generating hockey related. No one really knows the exact numbers. They're so skewed and everything's so hidden. Of course, if you're losing money or you're claiming you're losing money, they're going to cry foul and they want something fixed. Owning a sports team is not lucrative. It's not the return that you think on your investment. Ultimately you're going to have to hold on to it for 10-15 years and then maybe you can sell for a little more than you bought it."
You just got involved with the Allen Americans. Have you done much work with them yet or will that kick in once the season starts?
"We've been at it for about two and a half months now. It's been hectic. We went out and found a coach and some players and am getting training camp situated and trying to recruit some guys to come down and play. It's in full-swing and we're having some fun with it."
All the talk this week was about possibly making a comeback. Are the plans still to start working and see if you might go through with it?
"Well, it depends who's interested. The phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook. If it was then I'd probably have to re-think that. Until that happens I would probably would say that's a low percentage."
You saw up close guys like Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr at 40 years old, playing at high levels and getting nice contracts. Is the thought of a comeback more about you wanting to go out on your own terms or inspiration from seeing guys around your age still being productive players?
"We all feel we can still play the game at some point and while we're gone and out of the game we still feel we can think the game and play it and be creative. I think your body just doesn't move as quick as probably it used to. That's when you rely on some of the guys around you. You need some talented, quick guys around you that can make plays because you can still find the seams and still find passes and shoot the puck very well. [Jagr] was pretty fortunate, he played with [Claude] Giroux and [Scott] Hartnell all season and Whitney had a good line in Phoenix. Those guys were put in positions to produce and that's all you ask for as an older guy."
You were just elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. In two years you'll likely be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. You've won a Stanley Cup, earned tons of accolades during your career. Now that you've been away from the game for a year, have you been able to take a moment and think to yourself, "I had a helluva career"?
"Yeah, there's a lot of things I felt I accomplished and that I really didn't think that was in cards when I first started playing. It just kind of happened with longevity and being around it for so long and you have some experiences and opportunities internationally and those are great moments to be a part of the USA program, the Olympics and the World Cup. They were a lot of fun."
Finally, as a fellow "Breaking Bad" fan, how do you see final season playing out?
"I don't know. Every time you think you've figured it out there's sort of twist in there. I think they've done a great job. Once I got hooked it's one show that I've religiously watched over the last 4-5 years more than any other one."
The $600,000, 54-hole competition will be aired on NBC Sports Network on Friday, July 20 from 4-7 pm (ET) and on NBC on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22 from 3-6 pm (ET).
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy