Competitive fire isn't easily extinguished. It's the reason very wealthy people continue to push themselves in a given occupation without regard for age, health or the perceptions of others when it comes to the "proper" time to step away from the spotlight.
Sometimes it's the right decision, like in the case of a certain 41-year-old quarterback. Sometimes it's a decision that tarnishes a legacy; witness most of the professional wrestlers over the age of 55, who still take their shirts off despite looking like mannequins made of burlap.
Mike Modano(notes) still has the fire. The Dallas Stars legend hasn't decided whether he'll play in the NHL next season – what would be his 21st pro season – but his contemplation hasn't been focused on a desire to compete. It's been about the who, what, when and where for his future; which Modano clarified in speaking with ESPN Dallas on Monday, saying that he may have to look somewhere other than Dallas for employment next season:
He hasn't decided if he wants to play anywhere but Dallas. "It depends what kind of interest and what teams," Modano said. "I'd probably take two or three weeks in that month and see who comes calling and if there's connection with those teams that call. I'd want to play for a competitive team, someone that might have a legitimate shot at it."
Modano also said how he's used on the ice would factor into his decision.
"It depends on who I'd play with and who I feel I can make some plays and make decisions with on the ice," Modano said. "I just need help as far as quickness and pace of the game now. You can't make it work the way you used to with any given linemate. You need help how."
Modano's not someone hanging around past his welcome; he's still a viable player, given the proper amount of rest. He could be a significant veteran presence on the right team. No one can tell him it's time to retire ... but if he's not returning with the Dallas Stars next season, it's OK to hope that the time has come, for completely selfish reasons.
It's hard to imagine a more moving sendoff than the one Dallas fans gave Modano, and a more Hollywood ending than the one he gave Dallas fans. The North Stars jersey skate and salute was the perfect coda. Modano could easily be a productive depth player next season while wearing another city's colors. But the fan in us doesn't want to see the next Brett Hull-as-a-Coyote. We want to see Yzerman retiring with the Red Wings.