Some would argue that in Detroit, one can find the hockey fountain of youth. Luc Robitaille, Brett Favre Hull, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Igor Larionov, among others have come to hockeytown looking for a taste of the revival water.
Most of these players have come to Detroit looking to finally be claimed a winner. They leave reviving their careers just before the end of the horizon. This year, center Mike Modano looks to follow up on the so called legend.
“Seeing older players come here and have great success, they seem to get a second wind coming here,” Modano said at his initial press conference.
Now the question really is: Can he get that second wind? Can he really be better with age?
Last season he only played in 59 games. The scoring was down. Some would argue his best ability to get separation and handle the puck has diminished.
I say anytime you add someone of his caliber to the third line it’s going to help those around him.
Instantly Modano, Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler become the best third line in the NHL. Maybe the aging center’s scoring will be down, but I can almost guarantee that a healthy Cleary will return to form and maybe even have a career year. That’s the difference that Modano brings to the table.
In the middle of the ice he brings a depth that the Red Wings last year were missing. Like in years past, all three lines could be the best line of the night on any given evening. Just like the grind line and other third lines before them, it takes a combination of talent coming together with many different talents. Dan Cleary understands that and believes alongside Modano and Hudler, this could be a very special line.
“Each player brings something different to the table, that’s what makes a good line,” Cleary said. “The third line is important to winning long term. You need depth to take pressure off the top lines.”
For Modano, relieving pressure of the top talent on this team will also take place on the power play. It seems most likely that the Westland native will point the second line.
But beyond relieving the top talent, Modano brings a solid skillset to the ice. Head coach Mike Babcock expects him to tally 50 points or more this season. The idea isn’t far fetched at all considering he had 30 last season in only 60 games last season.
“That’s kind of what I’m thinking,” Babcock said. “Because of his ability to shoot the puck, if he gets the puck to Hudler and he gets open, he can score.”
Modano will be a well-welcomed addition to the team next season, no matter what his role is. Here is a player that is fired up to win, loves the coaching style of Mike Babcock and just wants to win that eluding stanley cup.
Hopefully part of his role will be being the first player to lift lord stanley’s cup after winning it in this year’s playoffs.