Modano decides to stay in Dallas

Updated: August 4, 2005, 12:40 AM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- Mike Modano will be staying with the Dallas Stars after all.

Mike Modano

Hours after backing out of a verbal deal, Modano agreed Wednesday night to a five-year contract to remain with the only team he's played for in the NHL.

Modano -- the club's career leader in goals, points, assists and games played -- ended up taking the same $17.25 million deal he accepted Tuesday night then declined Wednesday afternoon.

He wanted more time to think about it and to negotiate with other teams. But even after getting more lucrative offers, the 35-year-old center simply decided that he belonged in Dallas.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish, I guess," Stars general manager Doug Armstrong said, laughing. "It's a great day."

Modano is scheduled to speak at a news conference Thursday.

"The numbers might not match up with the other deals, but I think in the long run, this will be better for me," Modano said in a story in Wednesday's online edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Armstrong and team owner Tom Hicks thought everything was finalized late Tuesday when they say Modano accepted their offer over the phone. But on Wednesday afternoon, Armstrong said Modano's agent told him, "Mike is going in a different direction."

Armstrong even held a news conference to discuss the breakdown. His tone was polite and he remained optimistic that something could still be worked out, saying, "In three weeks, hopefully he'll be wearing a Dallas Stars uniform and this will all be over nothing."

Since it took closer to three hours, Armstrong said there's no ill will.

"You're going to have situations like this in long-term relationships," Armstrong said. "Everyone has to do things to get to a point of being very comfortable. I think he reached that point and realized the grass isn't always greener. He had to make some sacrifices financially to make this happen and to his credit he did."

Taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 1988 by the Minnesota North Stars, Modano helped the club reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1991. He became the face of the team when it moved to Dallas for the 1994 season, with his No. 9 jersey the club's runaway best-seller.

He was a big reason why the Stars made it back to the finals in 1999 and 2000. When they won the Stanley Cup in '99, Modano played the championship series with a broken left wrist, proving he had the grit to match his skill. He became the captain in 2003.

Although Modano was coming off his worst season and just turned 35, his popularity left the Stars in an awkward position -- they didn't want to further alienate fans after the lockout.

Armstrong initially wanted only a three-year deal, but Hicks stretched it to five on Tuesday. The contract is weighted so that Modano will make more in the first three years than the last two. There are signing bonuses due in the fourth and fifth years that he'll get even if he retires.

"The way I view this is Mike Modano is going to have to do his part to carry the Dallas Stars for the first few years, then in the last few years we're going to have to put players around him who can assist him," Armstrong said. "He's going to be counted on to be a premier player in the NHL. He has to be. We think he can or else we wouldn't be doing this at all."

Over 15 seasons, Modano has 1,106 points in 1,101 career games. He's scored 458 goals and assisted on 648 more. He has another 51 goals, 76 assists and 127 points in 144 playoff games.

In addition to dominating the club's record book, Modano is near the top of the NHL career scoring charts for U.S.-born players. He could top those lists during this contract, something the Stars didn't want to see happen with him wearing another uniform.

Apparently, Modano didn't like that either.

"I just think the reality of not ending his career in Dallas, putting on a different jersey, wasn't appealing to him," Armstrong said.

Earlier Wednesday, the Stars announced the signing of 25-year-old defenseman Martin Skoula to a two-year contract.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Skoula was a first-round choice by Colorado in 1998 and played in every playoff game in 2001 when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup. He played for Colorado and Anaheim in 2003-04, then spent the lockout playing in his native Czech Republic.

Dallas also signed defenseman Patrick Traverse and right wing Mathias Tjarnqvist to one-year contracts, and forward Vojtech Polak to a three-year deal.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press