Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More on Modano



Stars Forward Mike Modano was in studio the other day, and the fireworks flew as we talked to him about his future with the Stars, or lack thereof. The single most important decision the Stars make this summer is what they do with Modano. From my conversations with the team, they have been clear that:

1) They want him back.
2) They want him back at the right price for the right term.

That second part is where the two sides are apparently stuck. Modano thinks he has 4-5 years left in this league, and while the Stars don’t disagree, they are not willing to gamble on it. They have offered two years, and remain firm on this, citing his last season’s numbers, and the obvious declining skills of the average player at the age of 35.

Mike seems to believe he has earned 3-4 years, and appears willing to accept it from any city that might offer it to him. With his much publicized financial issues, he knows this is his last chance at security, and cannot afford a hometown discount where he holds most of the risk (example: a series of 1 year deals like Steve Yzerman in Detroit).

So, now both sides wait. Modano waits to find out what the market will offer, and the Stars wait to see if his offer comes down.

I cannot swear that either side is right. Modano is not near the peak of his career. He has played a lot of hockey, and while he may have plenty left, perhaps not enough to spend the lion’s share of your money on. If you marry yourself to him, you may marry yourself to years of wishing you hadn’t. On the other hand, when you see him play right now, he still looks like the best player on the ice.

But I do know this. You would have a hard time finding someone more important to a franchise than Modano. He has been with them since 1988, and helped sell hockey to this city. He also is far and away the most recognizable player on a team trying to resell itself to the area after the lockout. He is the face of the franchise. He is the Stars version of Ripken, Banks, Favre, Yzerman, and Elway. He brought a championship here, and will be a no-brain Hall of Famer.

I think the Stars Must sign him. But, here is a sampling of your thoughts:


Listening to him talks reminds me eerily of the Steve Nash situation. This will be letting another beloved area star who might burn us but it might be better off in the long run. I think he's got it and I love guerin but if I have to make the choice give me MO.

Mike in Irving

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Bob,

When I was 13 I went to a Dallas Stars Hockey camp with Mike Modano/Shane Churla as guest coaches. From that moment on I considered Mike Modano my Troy Aikman of the Dallas Stars. Sould he leave, this city will be lesser. Sad day indeed. Think you guys feel the same way.

Matt Hamilton

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Bob,

There is no way the Stars can afford not to sign Modano. He is the face of the Stars and is really the last of the favorites from the Stanley Cup team. I think we all took it when they traded away some of our favorite players for different reasons and assembled the uninspired team they have now, but I really don't think I could take it if they let Mike go over money or bad feelings. I have been waiting for the day that this mess would get sorted out and we could get back to hockey and have really been excited these last few days, but without Mike I don't know that it will be the same.

Did that sound gay?

Brian

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Sports Sturm,

I TOTALLY disagree with your stance. The Cowboys showed that same loyalty to Emmitt Smith, and where did that get them? Salary Cap trouble and ancient legs and body. This is the SAME thing. Give him 2 years, no more. Anything more than that is foolish from a WINNING perspective. We want to win, not say, "Wow Mike, we really appreciate what you did for
us years ago. Here's compensation for that, even though it will hinder our salary cap for the next three, four years and keep us from bringing up the next franchise player. Come on, if this were the Cowboys, you'd be screaming at them. You both were against the Cowboys keeping Emmitt,
right? Why keep Mike? He's 35 guys. That's my humble opinion.

Thanks,
P1 Sean

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First, the obligatory, I love you guys.

BUT, I know why some people hate the media. You guys rip and rip on the owners for not being smart enough to not sign guys to big contracts, and they need to spend more money to bring in big time players to win...

Then with Mike you talk about the franchise owes him some loyalty, they should sign him to a long-term deal...

It is easy to play both sides. One day we live by the credo "It's better to get rid of a player a year to early than a year too late." The next day it's this team owes the player for past service and work. But the moment that a star player (Aikman) starts the decline it's rip them and rip the team for still having him around.

I don't hate the media, I just laugh at the quick switching of hats allmedia guys get to do. It's just like the year before Chan Ho was free all Norm could talk about was he was coming free and what a good signing he would be. Then once he was signed Norm rips it apart. I just get confused. Should teams sign free agents, cut players, build for the future, or reward players for past service?

Robert
Azle

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Thanks for all of your notes. To the last two who point out inconsistency in my views on aging Cowboys and aging Modano, here is my response:

I think I might have been wrong. Its really easy to say that you shouldn’t be loyal to someone else’s beloved heroes from their championship teams. But when it is your team that you enjoyed, you feel like they have earned the right to go out on his terms. I really am not sure there is a right answer. Ripken left when he wanted, and it may have hurt the Orioles franchise for a few years. Meanwhile, the 49ers got rid of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana, and at least in the case of Rice, they have not been competitive since. I guess each case is different, but looking back, Troy Aikman should not have finished a Chargers back-up, nor Emmitt a Cardinal. Do you let them play as long as you want? Probably not, but we also should not be in a rush to get rid of them.

Anyway, to you Aikman fans who were so annoyed by my views back in 1999 and 2000, I do want to concede that looking back, I have pondered how insensitive it must have sounded to those who watched Troy as a rookie and every down he ever played. I might like to have that to do over again.

Here is one more piece of email about a caller to the show who gave the obligatory, “players are greedy and I would play for free” rant:


With regard to a hockey caller today; I get extremely tired of hearing how "I would love to play football/hockey/whatever for money, but I have to go to work at a real job". Most of the callers who make this statement, could not even make it through a standard high school football - summer workout. You would not like to get tackled by a professional football player, or checked by a professional hockey player for a living. Furthermore, I suggest that you wouldn't do it for an entire season, even for millions of dollars. Let's not belittle the hard work that professional athletes have put in their entire lives to acheive the level of mastry that they have in their respective sports, by suggesting that you could leave your air conditioned desk to play their sport for millions of dollars.

Danny


Amen.

Links:

Deion’s new son

In response to yesterday’s Horns fans making fun of Aggies, I was asked to post this picture by an Aggie:



Can’t we just all be friends?

Sports Impersonator strikes again

Mac Engle with a fine article on the current state of the Stars …Including this most disturbing quote from Mr. Hicks:


“Use the [Texas] Rangers as an analogy," Stars and Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. "We want to build with a core of solid, young players and still mix in free agents to make it a better team."


I told you! I freaking told you that he was going to strip the Stars down to nothing just like he did to the Rangers!!!!! What he said there makes sense, unless you translate it to mean what Hicks means. Then the quote looks more like this:

“Like the Rangers, I plan on turning a profit,” Stars and Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. “We want to build with a core of cheap young players and still mix in cheap free agents who have one year contracts to make it a cheaper team.”

And people sometimes call me a cynic.

This is very cool: The current contract situations for every team in hockey …At least I think it is cool. And, on Bob’s Blog, that really counts for quite a bit. Here is the team with the least to worry about, but the most work to do:


Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron $825,000 $627,000
Tom Fitzgerald $625,000 $475,000
Ian Moran $600,000 $456,000
3 players $1,558,000


That’s right, kids. Boston has 3 players signed at 1.5 million dollars. How are they every going to sort that mess out. And people called Boston cheap…

19 comments:

Big Daddy said...

While we all cheered Hicks when he brought in Hull and a line of other free agents to bring Dallas a Stanley Cup, it's quite obvious that Mr. Hicks now has profit as his main motive. He's got 2 teams in a major media market, both with (relatively) new stadiums, and he sees nothing but the bottom line.

If, under the new NHL cap, the Stars aren't within $50 of the max then we know something stinks in the owner's box.

Now I hear Cuban might be interested in buying the Blues. hey, Mark, go over to Frisco and make Hicks an offer he can't refuse. You'll own both teams at the AAC, and you probably have the creative mind to identify some wiggle room in the new NHL cap since you've got experience from the NBA.

Prediction 1: Modano will end up signing, but it will be a PR nightmare because Hicks will attempt to villify him in the media (a few "leaks" from the front office about loyalty, I'm sure).

Prediction 2: Dallas will suddenly be in the bottom third of the league as far as salaries go (a nice "building with youth" cover story will do it), and players like Turco and Morrow will be counting the days until they can sign with a team that actually cares about winning. The Stars will have a very pissed off Mike Modano and 19 kids that nobody knows on the roster, the team will tank, and hockey will take a spot at the bottom of the D/FW sports totem pole.

Just 5 years ago the Stars were easily the second most popular team in this town and before too long they'll be an afterthought.

Way to go, Tom.

Modano said...

Do you think Troy will let me sell cars for him? It could be worse, I could have to play for the Rangers and I am talking Texas Rangers, but I am too good for them.

AttnyDan said...

Good Lord BoBo, you're up early today!! Are the kids sick or something?

vijay said...

I posted an article yesterday (that for some reason didn't post correctly), that was an AP article very similar to Mac Engle's article. When I read this, I thought the same thing you did Bob. This concerns me very much.

I'm not sure what Hicks is thinking, but he seems to have completely changed his stripes as an owner. I'm not sure if the series of bad decisions he made in about a one year stretch was the issue (Donald Audette, A-Rod, Chan Ho, Pierre Turgeon) or if his financial concerns in other areas is the issue, but with cost certainty, if he doesn't spend money, NOBODY will go to the games. Does he realize he's trying to sell freaking ICE HOCKEY in a front running city???

If Hicks wants to make money, put a little into the investment. You can't make money without spending some.

AttnyDan said...

On a serious note, I completely 100% agree with the prediction that Hicks is going to treat the Stars and Rangers EXACTLY the same. It is painfully obvious that his business model for both franchises are mirror images. Does he really think we're that stupid and can't see what he's doing?

I can't believe I'd ever say this, but Jerry Jones....I love you.

Mark Cuban, if you want another pro franchise, please, please, please think about the Rangers or Stars.

Fake Big Mac said...

AttnyDan, if you are Kenny Roger's lawyer, you should be fired. How in the world do you let him act like an @ss AGAIN during his book-in.

On second thought, you hate Hicks too, so you're probably smart enough to prevent Kenny from acting like a jerk.

P.S. I hate the P1, but love free Pizza.

Anonymous said...

Nice shocker by dan.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it's possible to deliver a pizza to my office. Hey, it works for Dan and Bob, it might work for me!!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting myself ready for the texas rangers on ice. hicks is going to do the exact same thing to the stars, get rid of high priced players for cheaper alternatives. I'm just not sure how hockey will survive in dallas if
a) they arent winning
b) modano isnt here
hockey is popular here, but its not football, i dont know how forgiving the fans will be if the face of the franchise is gone. I dont know that I will even be willing to spend $10 on the cheapseats to see a cheap team on the ice.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bob answer me this.

Down by 3 runs in the bottom of the sixth with men on first and second and no out. Your lefty leadoff man strolls up to the plate and is facing a left handed pitcher, where he only has 15 at bats against lefties on the year. On deck you have the 3rd best batting average in the league and in the hole you have the leader in home runs. What do you do Bob? What do you do?

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign.

Mike

Anonymous said...

It's simple. If Hicks screws this thing up and dumps Modano, Guerin and Turgeon and then replaces them with a bunch of cheap no names, hockey will die a slow death in Dallas. Between a lousy team and the fan's hard feelings over the lockout, they'll be lucky if they draw 5,000 a night at the AAC if he does that. It'll be very interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months for sure...

JY said...

I second Dan for the nice shocker...

Dingbat said...

Well, we certainly have a lot of business experts in here don't we? It's obvious Hicks is only trying to line his pockets, I mean, he'll just take the money straight from the box office cash drawers and buy himself a new Bentley! RIGHT!!?

No one here knows anything about the finances of the Stars, of the Rangers, or (MOST IMPORTANTLY) of Southwest Sports Group (the OWNERS of the teams, not Hicks... Hicks just manages).

People easily forget that in the very recent past SSG almost had to default on their bank loans, but instead managed to get the banks to refinance the debt. Anyone think that's a business entity that's flush with cash? Sound to you like SSG is making money?

So maybe SSG needs a good business year to fix their business plumbing. As a fan, that sucks, but back off of already. Sports entertainment isn't a non profit business, and if you want it to be, maybe you can get Dale Hansen to front for people to donate their used cars to support the teams.

I admit that I haven't liked many of Hick's decisions recently, and he comes up as abrasive with the public, but he HAS shown a willingness to spend money to win WHEN HE HAS MONEY TO SPEND (and even when he doesn't). He paid A-rod (too much), he paid TVP (too much), he paid CHP (too much), he paid a lot of Stars, etc. Smart moves? Not always, but he tried dammit, even when he knew he might run in the red for a couple years before he hoped ticket/merchandise revenue caught up.

I'm just tired of people acting like Hicks is lining his pockets when he's not, especially when not one person here can furnish proof that the Stars, Rangers, OR (and especially) SSG are actually profitable this year.

Andrewk said...

I don't think this situation is that similar to the Nash situation.

Modano is coming off a season where he struggled greatly -- there can be no argument that he's at the peak of his productivity. But Nash had several solid years in a row, with no sign of statistical decline. Yes, there are the questions about his body, but they were mostly speculation -- not fact backed up by statistics, as Modano.

The Stars are staring rebuilding in the face. The Mavericks had a strong team they were looking to push over the top. I think the Mavericks made the wrong decision. But I don't feel that strongly about losing Modano being the wrong decision.

I'll miss him, the face of the franchise. But this feels far more like Emmitt Smith than Steve Nash.

I hope I'm wrong, and the Stars have a strong year -- but I worry.

And I don't want to think about the Rangers right now. It makes my head hurt.

vijay said...

to Dingbat:

What you wrote is exactly my point. We have no proof that SSG is making any money. Therefore we have a right to:
a) as customers, boycott.
b) as shareholders (of course in a private entity), the right to ask for new ownership.

If Dell is losing money hand over fist, the shareholders have the right to vote out the current ownership. If we continue to see that the product on the ice sucks, the decision making is questionable at best, AND the business that owns it has shown that it is struggling to turn a profit, we as both customers and shareholders have the right to complain.

I agree that Hicks was very willing to spend when he had the money. And that was able to get a championship here in Dallas. And for that, he deserves GREAT credit.

But times have changed, the business environment has changed, and a willingness to invest, in a "bullish" market is incumbent on the ownership in an effort to recoup return on investment. Go into the turtle position if the market sucks. But in this guaranteed profit market, you must spend to get income.

Yes, we should still give Hicks some time to see if he is willing to defy what he has done with the Rangers. Maybe he will try to build like the Patriots - good coaching, great offseason moves, a good coaching system and just a few stars that make the whole thing going.

But all I have to go on is past history. And with the recent history I've seen, Hicks has shown to be gunshy, a cheap owner, and one who has been a poor leader.

Once that changes, look for me to say how happy I am that Hicks has proven me wrong.

I understand that I'm not as business savvy as you, but I hope I have made a little bit of sense.

Anonymous said...

Yikes!
Now I see why they don't have a BaD TV show. Definitely a radio look.

meredith said...

The only reason the Stars should even consider resigning Modano is because he's a household name, which is something the Stars need - especially right now. But the bottom line is that winning attracts people more than one guy does. If the Stars want to build a competitive team, it's time to let Modano go. I'm sorry people grew up as fans of his and that they think he "represents" Dallas, but that's a terrible reason to keep a high paid player that is past his prime around, especially with the current salary cap situation as it is. Modano proved two years ago that he has gotten way too comfortable here in Dallas and that he doesn't really come to the rink with the desire to win every day anymore. I mean, really - was anyone impressed with his performance in the 2003-2004 season?

No one in Boston wanted Nomar to leave, but without that trade, the Red Sox never would have won a World Series. Trading away a city's favorite player isn't always a bad thing.

Don LaPorte said...

When Modano is working at 100%, he is still easily one of the better two-way players in the league. The issue is not age, I beleive it is more to do with motivation. In the last couple of seasons there have been plenty of nights when MM does not show up, and 'floats' while displaying occasional bursts of energy for a scoring chance. He is not tracking back on defense consistently, and 'giving up' more scoring chances than are being generated.(great Stars defense and goalie have mitigated the damage). He paticularly does this when the play gets physical. The rule changes will definitely help, as there will be less players skiing off the back of his jersey through the neutral zone. Obviously the Stars would not come out and say this due to PR with the fans, but it has to be a big consideration when you need to make every dollar count when putting together a consistent winning team. The Stars WILL sign Modano, but he also needs to make some financial concessions to attract/keep the right mix of talent, and Mike needs to dig deep for the motivation/consistency which has made him one of the best in the league.
Don L., Flower Mound