Modano: 'The game isn't like it used to be'

Updated: February 16, 2005, 6:41 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Gary Bettman won't be welcome in Dallas anytime soon.

The Dallas Morning News reported in its Tuesday editions that Stars players are frustrated, disappointed and sad at the prospect the NHL season will be canceled. Captain Mike Modano directed some of his anger at the commissioner.

He's a lawyer, he's a New Yorker, he's not a person of tall stature, so he makes a perfect villain.
Stars owner Tom Hicks, on Gary Bettman

"The NHL has totally deteriorated the last 10 years under Gary's regime," Modano told the newspaper. "The game isn't like it used to be. Now we're asked to fix a lot of people's problems and as players we don't feel we should do that."

Modano spoke after he and teammates Jason Arnott, Stu Barnes, Philippe Boucher, Aaron Downey and Brenden Morrow -- as well as former Stars Richard Matvichuk, Brad Lukowich and Lyle Odelein -- discussed the labor situation with Bill Guerin, an NHLPA vice president and teammate. Modano, who hopes to play in April's World Championships in Austria, said he still supports the union, even though he won't collect any of his $9 million salary if this season is lost.

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Stars owner Tom Hicks addressed players' perceptions of Bettman during a conference call with reporters Friday.

"He's a lawyer, he's a New Yorker, he's not a person of tall stature, so he makes a perfect villain," Hicks said. "So they tried to vilify him. I know what he's offered. He has not been the problem."

Morrow echoed Modano's sentiments and admitted he was optimistic that a deal could have been worked out over the weekend.

"I guess that was more hoping," Morrow told the newspaper. "This is about guys in the future and it's bigger than me. That's why our union remains strong."

Morrow also said he wasn't sure a deal could be reached for the start of the next season. Morrow, who played in the Central Hockey League earlier this season, said some teams in Switzerland are interested in signing him for next season.

"I hope they don't wait until September to talk," Morrow said. "I hope they let themselves cool off for a week or two and get back. We're already damaging the sport this year. We don't need to do it for next year."

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