For years the Dallas Stars made, and compared, every new Stars "star" and every new team to Mike Modano, and the Stanley Cup-winning group in 1999. Every team, and every media market, that ever wins a title plays the pointless comparison game.
On Saturday night, Modano will have his No. 9 jersey retired in a ceremony that is expected to bring in roughly 100 people from Modano's past, including many former teammates from that Cup team.
Having fully realized the folly of trying to recreate the same thing, the team has desperately tried to remove the compare/contrast from that 1998, '99 and '00 group. Time helps. But when Modano watches the Stars play today, maybe for the first time he can make a constructive comparison.
They have the center - Jamie Benn - and forwards in Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin, but there is the matter of depth, and defense. The team is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference, good enough for its first playoff spot since 2008. The team's 66 points are tied with two other teams. Basically, if they reach the playoffs it's going to be decided in the final couple of days.
"They do look like us in 1994, '95 and '06 in that they are trying to create a nucleus," Modano said today in an interview. "There are some really good players. But if certain guys don't perform or score, they have a tough time winning games. The thing I look at is depth - can they take a load off Benn and Seguin? There are going to be nights when those guys are going to be checked hard and they may not score.
"And the other area is a back end - they need shutdown guys who can play 25 to 30 minutes a night. Those are the neutralizing players. When we found those guys, we took off for six or seven years."
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