I got a hold of Mike Modano on the phone tonight, and the former Stars center said that he wasn't really worried about missing his last possible chance to ever play against the Stars Thursday in Detroit.
``I'll play the Stars next season,'' he said.
And while I know he was half-joking, I also think he was half serious. Yes, Modano will turn 41 in the summer and he does not have a contract for next season. Yes, he has just missed 40 games with a wrist injury. Yes, he's not really sure how his wrist will react when he comes back to play on Saturday. But, he figures all is good.
``Practice has been great, I can shoot the puck fine, the only worry is if it gets bent really hard,'' Modano said. ``I'm really looking forward to getting back out there.''
Modano said not playing against the Stars was an organizational decision. One, the doctors said late February/early March when they first set a timeline. Two, coach Mike Babcock said it would be easier for Modano to not deal with the distractions of playing the Stars. Modano had his wrist cut deeply by a skate blade in November, and he has gone through a lengthy recovery and rehab to make sure the tendons, ligaments and nerves are OK.
``I'm curious how it reacts, because you just never know until you get out there in a game,'' he said. ``But, really, it has gone pretty well.''
The irony of this long ``vacation'' is that many have believed it is exactly what Modano has needed in recent years. By pushing him to miss half the season, the Red Wings could be getting a very fresh 40-year-old for the final 20 or so games.
``It took me a while to get going to start the season, but I really felt good after 10 or 12 games,'' he said. ``I'm hoping the same thing happens here.''
Modano said he is happy being with the Red Wings, who lead the Central Division, and looks forward to being in the playoffs.
``It really is a great organization, and it's been interesting to watch how they have handled me and some other (injured) players,'' he said. ``They never panic, they always seem to have an answer for anything that happens. They just are on top of things. I really am looking forward to getting out there in the playoffs with them. There are jus so many veterans on this team, and it seems this is what they live for.''
Maybe he can play the Stars then.
``I just figure there's going to be another game,'' he said. ``I guess we'll just wait and see.''