DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) -- Mike Modano made it clear at his introductory press conference Friday: he was not happy with the way things ended in Dallas. But for the first time since he was 16, the Livonia native will be able to play at home, and said "it's exciting to come home."
Modano is aware of the challenge he'll have in Detroit. The days of scoring 30-plus goals for Modano are long gone, and he'll take on a new role in Mike Babcock's lineup. After 20 years with Dallas, the 40-year old center will play with Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler on the Red Wings' third line, according to Babcock.
"I'm gonna be as nervous as I've been in years," Modano said of his new venture. "But to have the opportunity to play in front of my parents if this is my last year playing, that they have an opportunity to see a lot of games and watch me play...[there are] a lot of expectations, so I think that will drive us and really give me some excitement coming into camp."
The Wings signed Modano to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million, and the all-time leading American-born scorer will wear #90. He told WXYZ he thought about 6, 89, and even the number he wore in his first year at North Stars camp, 39, but ultimately decided on adding a "0" to his usual #9. He joked about asking Ken Holland for permission to wear Gordie Howe's #9, but laughed, saying Holland wouldn't hear any of that. His respect for Howe, and the Red Wings franchise was evident with his remarks throughout the press conference.
“Coming here, it does get you excited about the opportunity that is here, the talent they have here. Everybody in the league has been chasing the Detroit Red Wings for years. I’m just elated. It’s exciting to come home. I’m probably going to be as nervous as I’ve been in years.”
Mike Illitch expressed his delight in having Modano in Detroit, saying, "I don't want to say too much, but Cup-y, Cup-y, Cup-y. I do feel it."
The longtime Wings owner brought up Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille's signings in 2001 that propelled Detroit to its tenth Stanley Cup. Hull, Chris Chelios, and current Winged-wheel forward Todd Bertuzzi were three veterans Modano consulted during his decision-making process. He said not one person he talked to had a bad thing to say about Detroit and the Red Wings organization.
Modano has scored 557 goals and 802 assists in his Hall of Fame caliber career. He made note of the Wings' notoriously successful power play, and will most likely be a part of the team's second man advantage unit.
With Modano's contract, Ken Holland has put the Wings' cap number at $58 million. They have approximately $1.4 million to spend on what will most likely go toward re-signing Justin Abdelkader and/or Kirk Maltby.