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Willa Ford has been the punchline of many jokes in the Red Wings blogosphere during the team’s courtship of Mike Modano, but perhaps we should have been thanking her instead.
Now that Modano is firmly entrenched as the Wings’ third line center, it appears that it was actually Ford, his wife, that pushed Mo back home.
Ultimately, Modano’s wife, Mandy, a singer who goes by the stage name Willa Ford, provided a good push in Detroit’s direction.
“She was probably the No. 1 fan pushing me towards playing,” Modano said. “She wanted me to play, and she wanted me to go to Detroit, just to prove to a lot of people that they’re wrong, that you still have some hockey left in you, that you can still play.”
That’s a drastically different view of Ford’ role in all this. Previously, the popular idea was that Ford was trying to get Modano out of hockey and back to California with her, especially when the San Jose Sharks came a calling.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for both Ford and Modano, who both started their careers in the Motor City. A Detroit radio station broadcast Ford’s first hit “I Wanna Be Bad” that broke her into the music industry.
But most importantly, Ford just wanted her husband to do what he loves the most.
“I would never want someone to tell me (what to do) in my career,” said Ford, 29. “He’s never told me, ‘you can’ or ‘you can’t,’ and he’s always been really supportive, so we have that in common. He wants me to relish in what I do, and I want him to do the same thing. So if he wanted to play hockey, I want him to play.”
The couple is currently looking for a place to stay in Detroit. Ford will be looking for work in the Detroit area, which shouldn’t be too hard considering the big tax breaks the state of Michigan gives the entertainment industry. That means we may be seeing a little more Hollywood flavor at the Joe this season.
“I’ll be in and out constantly,” she said. “But during long home stints, you’ll see me a lot more. I don’t want to miss. Last year, I missed a lot of his games, but I don’t think I really want to miss a lot of this, I think it’s going to be exciting this year.”
Over the last month or so, Mike Modano was deciding between retirement or playing for the Red Wings. Although Detroit was not competing for Modano's services with another team, they still went all out in trying to convince the 20-year veteran to sign, including getting some help from two former members of the team and one current Red Wing.
Holland said the club made a “full-court press’’ to sign Modano since he became a free agent July 1, shortly after the Stars announced they would not re-sign him. They enlisted former and current Wings, including Brett Hull, Chris Chelios and Todd Bertuzzi, to help with the recruitment.
“I didn’t talk to anyone who had anything bad to say about Detroit -- all were positive,’’ Modano said. “Brett’s been in a couple of places. I’ve known Chris for a long time. Bert loves it there.’’
Hull is one of the players Mike Ilitch mentioned during yesterday's press conference. Both he and Luc Robitaille came to Detroit toward the end of their careers and helped the Red Wings win a Stanley Cup in 2002. They both can be compared to Modano in the sense of joining a new team so late in their careers, and Ilitch is hoping by this time next year the comparison will include a Stanley Cup as well.
With Mike Modano returning to Detroit to play for the Red Wings, he will get to play in the same area where his hockey career began. The Minnesota Wild were hoping that Modano would instead return to where his NHL career began, but despite their best efforts, Modano decided on Detroit.
But the Wild made a serious effort to bring Modano back to Minnesota for the end of his career. Wild officials had several conversations with Modano's agent, then Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher talked with Modano to gauge his interest in playing in St. Paul. "But all along, Mike was going to make his own decision on where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do," Fletcher said this morning. "And right from the outset, I think Detroit was a great option for him, and I think he pursued that." One of the things Modano stressed in Friday's press conference was the importance of playing for a winner and having fun. Although being able to return to Detroit undoubtedly had a lot to do with Modano's decision to sign with the Red Wings, the fact that they are gearing up for another run at the Stanley Cup also had a lot to do with it. He made it clear that he would have retired if the only option on the table was a situation that would be mentally draining like the last few years in Dallas were. The Red Wings were no such situation, however, which is why Modano ultimately decided to come home to finish his NHL career.
But the Wild made a serious effort to bring Modano back to Minnesota for the end of his career. Wild officials had several conversations with Modano's agent, then Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher talked with Modano to gauge his interest in playing in St. Paul.
"But all along, Mike was going to make his own decision on where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do," Fletcher said this morning. "And right from the outset, I think Detroit was a great option for him, and I think he pursued that."
One of the things Modano stressed in Friday's press conference was the importance of playing for a winner and having fun. Although being able to return to Detroit undoubtedly had a lot to do with Modano's decision to sign with the Red Wings, the fact that they are gearing up for another run at the Stanley Cup also had a lot to do with it.
He made it clear that he would have retired if the only option on the table was a situation that would be mentally draining like the last few years in Dallas were. The Red Wings were no such situation, however, which is why Modano ultimately decided to come home to finish his NHL career.
From the second the Red Wings started courting Mike Modano, much was made over what number he would wear for Detroit if he ended up playing for his hometown team. He had worn No. 9 for almost all of his career, but since that is retired in Detroit and Modano wasn't about to ask Gordie Howe to use it, he had to consider other options.
With No. 9 out of the question, Modano turned his sights to No. 6 when he signed with the Red Wings.
“I wanted No. 6, but they told me about Larry Aurie,” said Modano, referring to Aurie, who played between 1927-39, and had his number retired by former Wings owner James Norris.
“I thought it would be easy to just flip 9 to 6,” Modano said. “I would have loved 6, but maybe 90.”
Aurie's No. 6 doesn't hang from the rafters of Joe Louis Arena with the other retired numbers because Mike Ilitch never recognized it when each of the previously-retired numbers were honored. In fact, Ilitch had Aurie's No. 6 taken off the list of retired numbers in the NHL Guide back in 2000. The reason behind Ilitch never recognizing the No. 6 with the other retired numbers is apparently because Aurie is not a member of the Hall of Fame, but even so, the number is kept out of circulation (Vladimir Konstantinov's No. 16 is also kept out of circulation).
So, with Modano unable to just flip his No. 9 into a No. 6, he ultimately decided to add a zero to the number, making it a 90. That is how he landed on the number he will wear for the Red Wings, and he is only the fifth player in the history of the franchise to wear a number in the 90s. He is the first to wear his new number, as the other numbers in the 90s worn so far are 91 (Sergei Fedorov), 93 (Johan Franzen), 95 (Danny Markov) and 96 (Tomas Holmstrom).
Mike Modano is slated to receive a base salary of $1.25 million with the Red Wings next season. He could earn a maximum of $1.75 million, however, if he earns the $500,000 worth of bonuses included in the deal:
Although the bonuses would raise Modano's cap hit to $1.75 million, the Red Wings are obviously hoping that happens. They certainly didn't sign Modano to play in less than 55 games, and it would really be disappointing if they were unable to achieve the Round 2 playoff win bonus. With the way this roster is shaping up, depth is as good as it's been at forward in years, and the Wings appear to be ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
The Red Wings have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. Friday to introduce hometown hockey superstar Mike Modano.
Originally the news conference was scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but it has been moved up a half-hour.
If you want to watch the news conference and get your first look at Mike Modano in a Red Wings uniform, FOX Sports Detroit's website will be streaming it live.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland today announced the club has agreed to terms with center Mike Modano on a one-year contract. In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Modano is scheduled to be introduced tomorrow afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Mike Modano is scheduled to be introduced by the Detroit Red Wings as their newest acquisition in a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
He and the Wings have agreed to a one-year deal, believed to be worth around $1.25 million. He’s being brought in to center the third line, between wingers Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary.
With Modano joining the team and Mike Babcock saying earlier this summer that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will play on the same line, the Red Wings' forward lines are shaping up to look like this:
To say the least, I'm pretty pumped for the season based on the way the roster looks right now.
When the Red Wings first started to go after Mike Modano, fans started to wonder what number he would wear if he ends up signing with Detroit. Now that we know that Modano is set to join the team, that topic has come up again, and according to Helene St. James, right now No. 90 is the leader.
He can’t wear his usual No. 9, which was retired in honor of Gordie Howe. Adding a 1 in front of the 9 won’t work -- No. 19 has hung from the rafters at Joe Louis Arena since Jan. 2, 2007, when the Wings retired Steve Yzerman’s number.
Instead of adding a number in front of the 9, look for Modano to go with a clean No. 90. It’s not official yet, but that’s the way things are leaning.
In case you wondering what a No. 90 Mike Modano jersey would look like, here is a preview:
After a month-long dance, center Mike Modano has finally decided to sign with the Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit Free Press cites a “source with knowledge of the situation” that confirmed the signing. Modano himself sent a text message that said he had a big announcement to make on Thursday.
Terms weren’t immediately available, but past reports have had the Red Wings offering a one-year deal worth $1.25 million to be the team’s third-line center.
Red Wings general manager wouldn’t confirm the report, but said he was hopeful Modano would choose Detroit:
"I’m cautiously optimistic," he said. "When Mike was in Detroit a couple of weeks ago and spent time here, and in all the conversations I’ve had since with him and his agent, Mike Liut, I think they understand all the positives to coming to Detroit."
The San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild were also interested in Modano’s services, delaying a final decision with the Red Wings.
Although Mike Modano initially made it clear that he would simply play for the Red Wings or retire, it appeared that things changed when both the Wild and Sharks started expressing interest in him. Both destinations made sense for Modano in different ways -- Minnesota is where he started his NHL career and San Jose would allow him and his wife to live closer together since she is an actress.
As Modano continues to take the time to make a decision, speculation has suggested that this was no longer strictly a Detroit or retirement situation. With both the Wild and Sharks coming into the picture, the belief was that the Wings may have some competition for Modano's services. Well, it turns out that may not be the case at all.
I texted Mike Modano and he said there is no plan at this time for a meeting with people from Minnesota or San Jose (who have expressed interest in signing Modano). He said he is working out off-ice and still plans to skate in early August. He said he will make a decision on if he wants to play after he skates.
As has been reported earlier, Detroit is willing to wait for that decision.
Further evidence that it is still Detroit or retirement for Modano comes from the Star Tribune.
I've talked with a couple people who know Modano extremely well, and they don't believe at all Modano's signing in Minnesota anyway. They believe it's Detroit or retirement all the way, and like I said, these people know Modano very well.
Although many Red Wings fans have lost their patience with Modano, I really don't have a problem with him waiting until August to decide. Yes, it'd be nice if he would let the Wings know one way or another so they can finalize their plans for next season, but what are a few more weeks? It's not like the free agent market is passing Detroit by while they wait, so I personally don't see what the big deal is.
If you were expecting to hear a decision from Mike Modano in the immediate future, then don't get your hopes up. Modano isn't planning on deciding until he skates and gets an idea of where he's at physically, and that isn't going to happen until next month. Then and only then will he decide to retire or sign with a team.
Reached Monday evening, Modano told the Free Press he'll make a decision, "when I start skating again -- see how that feels."
Modano said he plans to hit the ice Aug. 5 and that he won't make a decision before that time. He confirmed his options for continuing his 20-season NHL career are Detroit, San Jose and Minnesota.
I know some people are getting tired of waiting for Modano to decide, but the Red Wings are going to wait this out and see what happens. Obviously they would like to hear something one way or another soon because they need to sign Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm still, but if being patient means landing Modano, then I think it's worth it.
Although cap room and roster space will be tight if Modano is signed, the Wings aren't planning on trading any of their young guys like Abdelkader and Helm, which is good to hear.
"They won't be traded," general manager Ken Holland said. "They'll be on the team next season."
Helm has shown loads of skill and potential dating back to the playoffs a couple years back. The same goes for Abdelkader, although he spent last season in Grand Rapids. Next season he is ready to be with the Red Wings, regardless of whether or not Modano is signed.
The Mike Modano watch continues and is expected to continue for at least a couple more weeks, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock thinks the 20-year veteran will sign with Detroit when all is said and done.
"This is a no brainer for Mike Modano -- the highest scoring American player of all time to come back to your hometown, play in Hockeytown," Babcock told NHL.com Friday. "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."
Although Babcock sounds extremely confident that Modano will end up in Detroit, he isn't 100% sure.
"I think this is all going to work out; I'm pretty certain of that for us, but I've been around before and if you would have told me Jiri Hudler was leaving for Russia, I wouldn't have believed it," he said. "I've been wrong. Some people think I have the market cornered on being wrong."
Babcock went on to say that he isn't expecting a decision from Modano until August 1 at the earliest, but if Modano does sign with the Wings, he will likely play on the third line with Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler. That would end up putting Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom on the first line; Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi on the second line; and three of Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Kris Draper on the fourth line. Considering how good the team was in the second part of the season last year, I'd say a team with that lineup would be competing for first place in the Western Conference rather than fighting for a playoff spot.
Anyways, back to Modano. Here are some other notes on him:
Last week, Mike Modano's situation was pretty clear: retire or come back for at least another season to play with the Red Wings. Modano has yet to make a decision one way or another, though, and now more and more teams are becoming interested in signing the 20-year veteran.
Specifically, it looks like you can for sure add the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild to the list of teams interested in Modano, and the Anaheim Ducks are reportedly on that list as well. Modano said last Friday that the Sharks and Wild have gotten in contact with him about a possible deal, and Minnesota is especially interested in bringing Modano back to where his NHL career began.
"I spoke with Mike and have spoken with his representative," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday. "We have expressed interest in speaking with him further once he determines what course of action he wants to take." [...]
"I hope it comes to fruition," he said. "It's doubtful, but I hope it does."
Anaheim comes into the picture as a mere rumor right now, but the Pioneer Press mentions in an article that the Ducks are in Modano's top three, ahead of the Wild. Any California team would make sense for Modano since his wife (Willa Ford) is an actress. By playing in California, Modano and his wife would likely get to see a lot more of each other, which is why many believed he would end up with a team like Anaheim from the very beginning.
Although just a week ago it looked like Modano was going to play for the Red Wings or retire, suddenly he has a few more options on the table, making this decision even tougher for him.
Mike Modano is still thinking over whether he should retire or come back and possibly play for the Red Wings, but if some current and former Detroit players had it their way, Modano would already be signed and ready to wear the winged wheel.
"In view of the skillful game we play, I believe that Modano would find that he could surely get on well [here]."
"He's not as fast as before, but Modano is a player who showed last season that he can still keep up with play in the NHL. I hope he signs on [with us]."
“It’s a veteran team, he’d have no problem fitting in,” said Larry Murphy, who played with Modano for two seasons on the Minnesota North Stars, which later became the Dallas Stars. “It’s a team whose goal is to win the championship, and I know that would be one of the driving forces for him to continue on playing.”
“He’s still going to be an impact guy, and he’d make the Wings a better team,” Murphy said. “So it’d be exciting for him to come home and play. ... I would sure try to convince him to join the Wings.”
Like most, Ken Kal, the Red Wings' radio play-by-play announcer, believes that Modano would be a "good fit" for Detroit. He is a veteran player, which Detroit's locker room is filled with, and he hails from the state of Michigan. What's more, he wants to win a Stanley Cup, and there's no doubt that is a realistic possibility for the Wings next season.
Mike Modano is scheduled to go back to Dallas today after spending much of Tuesday in Detroit visiting with the Red Wings. His time in Detroit consisted mostly of talking with Ken Holland and Mike Babcock and listening to how he would fit in with the Wings. Also, in one sense it was like a recruiting trip for Modano since there's no doubt Holland and Babcock were trying to convince him to return to Michigan for good. Even so, Modano said they weren't trying to pressure him or anything.
"It's totally up to me," said Modano, 40, who was told by the Dallas Stars last month that they were moving forward without him. "We talked about my situation, what it would be, how I would fit in and the logistics of it all. It was good. We talked about playing at home and having a chance to go deep in the playoffs. I have to figure out what I want to do still. They haven't pressured me into making a decision. But I know the sooner the better for everybody so they can get their financial situation resolved and figured out."
Both sides of this have been very open about what is going on, so none of this is really new information. Still, it's interesting to hear Modano's perspective as he heads back to Dallas with a decision to make. The Red Wings obviously want him to join their team and help them with another Stanley Cup, and on paper I'm sure Modano would jump at the chance of playing for what is essentially his hometown team. In reality, though, Modano has to figure out if he is prepared to make this big of a change so late in his career and if he's got another year of hockey under his belt. If the answer to those things is yes, then he will sign with Detroit.
Mike Modano hasn't made a concrete decision about his hockey future, but he has narrowed his options down to two specific choices: play for the Red Wings or retire.
"There isn't any other team," said Modano, standing outside Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch's suite at Comerica Park Tuesday night. "It will be here or I'm not playing. I think it's narrowed to that."
While it has been previously reported that a decision is "not imminent," Modano sounds like he wants to get this process moving relatively quickly. Considering he's not going to be taking any other visits based on his above comments, right now it's simply a decision of to play or not to play.
"The last couple of years have been tough and they've taken a toll on me, mentally more than anything else," he said. "Physically, I still feel fine and I can play, but you have to try and get that excitement back about playing.
"If I could get it here, it's probably a given with the talent and the type of team they have. To be able to go out winning another Stanley Cup, that would be phenomenal."
[...] "The sooner the better," Modano said of his decision. "I know they would love to get an answer so they can get their cap and their roster situated. I don't want to delay this."
I would not be surprised at all if Modano does decide to retire, but if I had to predict right now, I'd say that he ends up signing with the Wings. Detroit badly wants to sign him, and the Wings fit Modano's criteria as far as competing for a Stanley Cup goes. What's more, as Modano alluded to previously, to be able to play on the same team as guys like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski is a unique opportunity for someone in his situation.
I could see why he would opt for retirement, but in the end I think this will just be too good of an opportunity to pass up. No, the money won't be out of this world or anything, and he's not going to be anything more than a third-liner. But to be able to close out your career by returning home and being on a team that should compete for a Stanley Cup is pretty special.
As soon as it was announced that Mike Modano would not be returning to the Dallas Stars, immediately the Red Wings were linked to the Michigan native. It was all speculation early on, but soon we found out that the Red Wings were interested in Modano and Modano was interested in the Red Wings.
During this courtship of Modano, really only the Red Wings were mentioned as a possible destination for the 20-year veteran. Well, that is until now. From Sportsnet's John Shannon:
Modano has heard from DRW and three other teams.Says a source:"Mike is considering Detroit and the 3 other teams...nothing is imminent".
If the Wings had it their way, something would be imminent considering Modano is visiting the team today. If nothing is imminent, though, Modano will probably explore all of his options before making a decision.
At this point it is unclear if Mike Modano is going to retire or play for at least another season. If he does decide to come back, however, one thing that does seem pretty likely is that he will play for the Red Wings. Although this once seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream, Modano playing for the Wings is becoming more and more likely by the day.
"Ken (Holland) had shown a lot of interest. It's been exciting talking to him and getting his whole feel on the thing," Modano said. "It's just a matter of with me, I'm trying to process whether or not to play.
"Detroit has shown a lot of interest, so I'm going to come up for a day, sit down with them face-to-face, take in a ballgame. It's a great team, great opportunity, great coach. There are a lot of positives."
That day is today, as Modano is scheduled to fly to Detroit this morning and meet with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland this afternoon. What will come of that meeting remains to be seen, but there's no doubt Modano is interested in joining the Wings.
"It's such an intriguing place,'' he said of Detroit. "They want to win and they can win now. They have great players and a great system. They believe they can find a way for me to fit in. It's flattering that they think I could help them, and I really want to see if that's possible.''
"It's a big decision, and I know it would be for them too, so we'll talk about it and see if this works for both sides,'' he said. "I'm excited. I'm looking forward to hearing what they think.''
Based on the comments Holland has made in the last week, the Red Wings want to sign Modano. I would assume their hope from meeting with Modano today is for him to decide to play another year and just go ahead and sign with Detroit. Things may not happen quite that fast, but at this point I would be surprised if Modano ends up anywhere but Detroit if he does come back for another year of hockey.
It looked like a long-shot that Mike Modano would end up in Detroit, but what once was a pipe dream is a little closer to reality than originally thought.
ESPN and the Dallas Morning News both released reports that Modano is seriously talking to the Red Wings, but is also debating whether or not to continue his career. The DMN said that he’s had “his best conversations with Detroit” and would be a good fit in Motown:
Modano could be a good fit in Detroit. He’s a versatile centerman who understands their system. Ironically, they also have a lot of left-handed centermen (just like the Stars), but it all seems to work in Detroit. That said, the Red Wings are hard against the cap and have a lot of players already signed, so we’ll see. It could be a tough squeeze to get him in
Red Wings GM Ken Holland said he’s definitely interested in the 40-year-old all-time American scoring leader. According to Modano, Holland’s making quite a push:
“They’re selling it pretty hard,” Modano said. “Having a team like Detroit really interested in me is flattering. I could have some fun playing with some great players and a great organization. There’s a lot of upside to it. But for me, I need to figure out in my head what I want to do.”
As the DMN points out, the cap is the biggest enemy. Detroit has $54 million committed to the $59 million cap, and will also be hit with a $50,000 reduction next year for going over last year’s ceiling.
Detroit has also tendered offers to all five of its restricted free agents, further complicating talks with Modano. To get under the cap, the Wings are going to have to sign Modano to a basement deal, likely $1 million or less. For an over-the-hill player that might not seem too bad, but Modano might not want to take that much less, even if it means returning home to Michigan.
Mike Modano via text message says Red Wings only team to call so far but said, "if there is only one not a bad one to be.''
While the salary issues would need to worked out, there is no doubt at this point that the Red Wings are interested in Modano.
"We're interested in players that fit our style of play and our salary structure,'' Holland said. "They got to fit both. (Modano) fits our style of play.''
If the salary issue can get worked out, I would be surprised if Modano doesn't become a Wing. Problem is that's a big stumbling block, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
When it was announced earlier this week that the Dallas Stars were not going to bring back Mike Modano, speculation immediately began about where the 20-year NHL veteran would land, assuming he decides not to retire. Immediately the Red Wings seemingly jumped to the top of the list of possible destinations for Modano based mainly on the fact that he's from Livonia and grew up in Michigan. Most assumed it would just make sense for Modano to return to his home state to finish his career, especially since the Wings will be a threat to make another Stanley Cup run.
The obvious problem with all of this talk about signing Modano is the fact that the Wings don't have much cap space to work with and they have enough forwards on one-way contracts as it is. This has led many people to write off the possibility (myself included) of Modano signing with Detroit, but general manager Ken Holland said today that, while nothing may come of this, he is interested in the former Dallas Star.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed that he has expressed interest in Mike Modano, but said he didn't want to get people excited because "it might not go anywhere."
"He's a local boy, a (future) Hall of Famer, yeah, I'm interested," Holland said. "We've had good success through the years in getting the most out of players that are nearing the end."
Evidence of this interest in Modano comes in the form of this report from The Dallas Morning News:
For the Red Wings to bring in Modano, some moves would likely have to be made to free up cap space and create some room on the roster. There's no doubt that it would be nice for Modano to return to Michigan to finish his career with the Red Wings, but it still doesn't seem like a legitimate possibility just yet. Then again, considering Holland is interested in Modano, chances are the Wings already have a plan that would allow them to sign him.
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