Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Was hiring Mike Modano a good call?

About 70 days ago, the big question for the Detroit Red Wings was whether or not Mike Modano would sign on with the team for a year contract. Modano is an amazing player, and one of the all-time goal leaders. He is also a local boy, having been raised in Michigan. But Modano is also old for an athlete, having turned 40 in June. And his season average goals has been on the decline for some time. So when Modano agreed to sign a contract about 67 days ago, the question quickly became "is this a good idea?"

The idea is that Babcock will use Modano as a centre on the third line, with Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary. Nominally, this is to provide third-line depth that most people don't have, but that's not the real reason he's there. The real reason is so that Datsyuk, Zetterberg and to a lesser extent Holmstrom can be put on the same line. It's all about getting the Eurotwins back together and hoping Zetterberg's Swedish Magic™ will come out in his pairing with Datsyuk.

By the way: Thank god for Sweden. :) And anyone else notice how few Russians there are on the team right now? Bizarre.

But. This is all predicated on the idea that Modano will keep the third line strong enough to shuffle things around. And while Modano has had a nice first few games, I'm going to point out the obvious - He's old. Even in a club like the Red Wings, which has been at times jokingly called the senior centre on ice. He doesn't have many years of good hockey left in him, if he has any at all. Yes, his first shot in his first game was a goal. But long-term, will he have the staying power? In the regular season they can just idle him down for a game or two, but in the playoffs, what then?  There's no nap time in the play offs, when Modano will be expected to consistently bring his A-Game. So while the experts are saying good things about Modano and the Red Wings, I remain cautiously optimistic at best. I'm often wrong, and I look forward to being wrong about this too.

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