The 2010-11 season was one of two drastically different tales for a pair of 41-year old current unrestricted free agents. Teemu Selanne returned to Anaheim on a one-year $4.5 million deal and turned in a 31-goal, 80-point effort that ranks among the greatest feats by an NHL player over the age of 40. It wasn’t such a successful turn as a 40-year old for Mike Modano, though. Modano elected to carry on his playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, signing a one-year 1.75 million deal hoping to reach the promise land one last time, but the former face of the Dallas Stars franchise battled injuries and decline all season to the tune of 15-points in 40 games.
Both Selanne and Modano find themselves at a similar crossroads that each faced a year ago. Weighing the decision of whether or not they have enough left in the tank for one more stab at glory.
For Modano, it would appear that the writing is on the wall: pack it in, like you should have done a year ago. For Selanne, it’s a different story. It would be difficult for the Finnish Flash to duplicate the successes he found last season in Anaheim, but his better than a point per game turn last season suggests that he’s still got something left.
Selanne has been skating in Finland during the offseason, and he’s reportedly feeling pretty good. While wishful thinking Manitobans have been hoping for a return to Winnipeg for Selanne, the player has made it clear that it’s Anaheim or retirement for 2011-12. Given the prolific offensive output that Selanne enjoyed last season, it’s entirely conceivable that he could play a major role in Anaheim attack next season. An 80-point season at the age of 40 would be a nice accomplishment to walk away on the heels of, but Cup aspirations can be quite conducive to stubbornness.
Sad is the tale of 2010-11 Mike Modano
Modano’s legacy didn’t take a beating in the wake of last season’s sad showing so much as it welcomed sympathy. The injuries and the eventual Modano as a healthy scratch in the playoffs story lines were almost too awkward to acknowledge. It was clear during his last couple seasons in Dallas that his days as a frontline offensive contributor were far behind him. Modano had been relegated to the team’s third and fourth lines, popping up from time to time to take an important draw. His Michigan homecoming had the makings of great match with an aging former superstar slotting in nicely with Detroit’s bottom six, alas it didn’t work out quite how either side had hoped.
Modano recently stated that he would make a decision on the future of his playing career in the coming weeks. If last season’s limping effort was his final run in the NHL it will have made for a forgettable one. I think we all know what should come next for Modano.
What’s the appropriate course of action for two greats that are approaching the end of the road?