I'm much better at talking on the phone than I am at texting (that's what happens when you're old), so I got Mike Modano to call me back this afternoon, and I think I have a much better idea of what he is thinking.
Modano said he needs the next couple of weeks to make sure he wants to play hockey again. Moving to a new team and trying to find his place in a new environment is a big challenge mentally, and he said he will continue to work out off-ice, that he is scheduled to start skating Aug. 5, and that he believes he should know after a few days of skating whether or not he is ready to commit himself to a full season of hockey.
``I don't want to do this thing halfway, I really want to be committed to it, so I need to take this time and see exactly how I feel,'' he said. ``I'm enjoying the off-season stuff, but there is a certain feeling to skating, to waking up in the morning and going to your job. I need to know how I feel when I get into that routine, whether I think I can do it for a whole year or not. That's what this is all about.''
Modano said there still are times when he has doubt, and he needs to make sure that's not there. Modano said he and representatives from Octagon Sports have had conversations with management from Minnesota and San Jose, but that they have not set up any visits or meetings with the Wild or Sharks. He said he has had a ton of conversations with Detroit, and that coach Mike Babcock has been very persuasive. Babcock told nhl.com last week that he felt Modano would indeed play in Detroit, where he was born and grew up.
``This is a no-brainer for Mike Modano,'' Babcock said. ``It's not about the cash, it's about the legacy and the fit. He'll fit and he'll be excited to play. I look forward to him signing, I think that's inevitable. I think that's what is going to happen.''
Modano said Babcock has been just as energetic in person, and he said that's a great feeling. Babcock might just be the most respected coach in the NHL right now. He led Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics, and for him to say he believes Modano can be an important part of a very good Red Wings team is intoxicating.
``Definitely,'' Modano said. ``He's a great coach, and he's very serious about making this work. That's one of the reasons I am taking this seriously. I know what will be expected, and I want to make sure I can do it.''
Modano has played all 22 years for the North Stars/Stars organization and has lived in Dallas since 1993, so this will be a big step. His parents still live in the Detroit area, so that would be a help, but he knows it will be a big change in lifestyle to move. The fact the Red Wings are a veteran team would also help, he said.
``They are a group of 30-year-olds and not 20-year-olds, and I think that makes a difference,'' he said. ``I do think I could fit in there.''
Detroit has offered a one-year contract at $1.25 million. Modano made $2.25 million last season for the Stars.
The Red Wings have some contract issues that they would like to clean up, but they are with restricted free agents, and GM Ken Holland told reporters in Detroit they will wait for Modano's decision.
Modano said he believes he will have an answer soon after he starts skating again.
``There are just steps that have to be taken,'' Modano said. ``They have told me they can be patient with me while I take those steps, so that's the plan right now.''