If the San Jose Sharks complete the sweep on Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings, this is how it likely ends for Mike Modano: a night in street clothes, as a healthy scratch.
Modano told reporters that his name wasn't on the lineup board, and that he'll be scratched for the seventh time in these playoffs.
He played 40 games with the Red Wings in the regular season, scoring 4 goals and 11 assists in a campaign derailed by a nasty lacerated wrist injury in November 2010.
From Yahoo! Sports' Nick Cotsonika, reporting from Detroit, Modano's thoughts from Thursday:
"It certainly crossed my mind after the game last night and today that this could be it," Modano said. "A knee-jerk reaction is to kind of say that's it and be done with it, because the frustration level is fairly high at this point. … Right now if you ask me, I'd probably say no, I wouldn't entertain anything at this moment."
Modano said he isn't sure if he would announce his retirement right away or wait to see if he got the itch and opportunity to play again, like he did last summer. But he knows some of the people who are trying to buy the Stars. He might have a future doing something in Dallas, and that might be the way to go. This attempt at playing one more season didn't work out the way he envisioned, to say the least.
"Your initial thought is a little regret, because of what you went through, but no one could ever predict what happened, the severity of the injury and what all took place," Modano said. "It's just … Maybe it was a sign that I should have stayed away."
For Modano to recognize that now is, obviously, a depressing development, because it should have been evident last summer. He had a farewell befitting an NHL legend: The teary-eyed sendoff by Dallas Stars fans after a shootout goal, and the surreal Minnesota North Stars salute on the road.
The Red Wings haven't been sentimental about this stuff in the past. Steve Thomas was a healthy playoff scratch at the end of his run in 2004, for example. Putting Modano in Game 4 would have been an honorable thing for Mike Babcock, but it also would have signaled that this series had reached its curtain call, so the decision is understandable. Check out Defending Big D for a Stars blog perspective.
It's hard to accept Modano's final game after 21 seasons will be spent in the press box. But it's not like he didn't have the chance to go out on his terms.