Has Mike Modano played his last game in the NHL? We certainly hope so. Not to be completely facetious here, but it can be painful to watch a once great hockey player fight a losing battle against age and injuries. Mike Modano was an elite hockey player, emphasis on the was, but 40-year old Mike Modano of the Detroit Red Wings will not suit up with the season on the line because it’s what’s best for the hockey team.

As Ansar Khan reported on Friday, Modano did not find his name on the lineup board for tonight’s game against San Jose and he will be forced to watch his teammates try to stay alive from the pressbox. It’s a sad situation for Modano, who is coming to grips with the fact that this is probably the end of the line for his playing career:

“Each summer I think to myself that I could muster up one more year and try to have a nice, positive fun year, something I can be happy about and content with leaving at that point,” Modano said. “But I’m still trying to find it for three years. Maybe it’s not there.”

Modano has not played since Game 4 versus Phoenix, when he registered one assist in limited ice-time. Head coach Mike Babcock stated that his plan for Modano in the 2010-11 season didn’t really work out, but also said it was a difficult decision to scratch him again:

“I recruited him hard (in the summer),” Babcock said. “Our plan for Mike Modano and what ended up happening, that’s just the way it goes. If you go back to last summer at this time, we thought he was going to really be able to help our team. We didn’t plan on the skate hitting his wrist and the way things went (missing three months after surgery). Does that make you think any less of the guy? Absolutely not. Does it make it hard? Yes.”

There were many fans and media types who questioned Modano’s decision to join the Red Wings after the Dallas Stars announced that they did not plan to bring him back this season, but the Michigan native made the decision to carry on his career in his home state. Perhaps he had something left and it was the injuries that ultimately chopped him down this season, but there was something about Modano rocking No. 90 in red and white that just never seemed to feel right. Now here we are with one of the best players of his generation watching his team attempt to avoid being swept as a healthy scratch, like a fourth liner.

In the grand scheme of things it probably won’t matter much. Modano amassed 1374 regular season points in the NHL, he won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic Silver Medal, a World Cup championship, and probably should have been awarded the Conn Smythe. He was the face of the Dallas Stars franchise, and a drop dead good looking one at that. Every pro athlete dreams of going out on top, but Modano will in all likelihood go out atop the arena watching his teammates from the pressbox. Not what Mike Modano would have envisioned, but this was his decision and he will live with it.