Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Mike Modano reflects, reunites with Broten

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: April 10, 2010 - 4:46 PM

Good day from beautiful Minneapolis. Unfortunately, in seven hours, the Wild 2009-10 season will be kaput.

"It [stinks] when you know when the season ends," said goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Agreed.

Five injured regulars will miss a final chance to play in front of the home crowd -- Owen Nolan (who may have played his final game in a Wild uniform), Martin Havlat, Guillaume Latendresse, Marek Zidlicky and James Sheppard. Also, Andrew Ebbett, Josh Harding, P-M Bouchard and Clayton Stoner, bringing the season man-game lost to injury total to a franchise-record 342.

Rookie Nate Prosser will play his first home game in front of family and friends. He's from Elk River and is the eighth Minnesota native in history to wear a Wild sweater. Petr Kalus will also play.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, owner Craig Leipold and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman will announce at a 6 p.m. presser tonight that the Wild will host the 2011 NHL Draft.

Mike Modano, maybe the great American hockey player in history, might be playing his final game tonight. If you didn't read Rachel Blount's story today, go to www.startribune.com/wild.

Modano was being followed by cameras today as the Dallas Stars document his every move.

Modano will be honored by the Wild during a video tribute during the second TV timeout (first non-icing or goal stoppage after the 10-minute mark of the first period). It's his call, but it appears as if at some point tonight Modano will slip on a North Stars sweater. It's unknown if that will be in warmups, during a stoppage or after the game. He said maybe "during the game," but I emailed Bill Daly and he says that request hasn't been asked yet or considered.

I don't see how he'd be allowed to wear it during the game (he wore seven or so Stars sweaters during his home finale the other day), if for no other reasons than Reebok sponsors NHL jerseys.

Modano reunited with former North Stars/Stars teammate Neal Broten this morning during a hilarious conversion that took place for about 25 minutes with us media and others contributing. Some great lines.

Broten on left, CCM rep center, Modano right

Broten told Modano he should still play because he only plays two minutes a game. Asked if he could still play, Broten said, "I can still play two minutes a game and I'll take half of whatever he's making."

Here's Modano in his own words:

On reunion with Neal Broten: “I didn’t even know he was alive still. I didn’t know where he was hiding. It was good to see him. I haven’t seen him in a long time. He still acts and looks the same. Now he’s a grandpa.” 

Why quit: “I think a lot of players say that. Now I know what they go through in this moment of their career when you have a little bit of tug of war with that decision of keep going or not and letting it go. A lot of people have said to keep going and go as long as you can, but sometimes the scenario and the situation isn’t such. Those factors will be played out as the summer goes on. It’s hard to make those decisions right now. I need some time, I think.
 
Coming back to Minnesota: “Rare and unique to say the least. …The moments I had here were real special. … Just diehard hockey fans. A lot of people bleed the North Star history and what that was all about early on.”
 
Run to Finals (1991): “Considering our situation, I think we had to win one of the last two wins just to get in. I think we had to win in Quebec just to get the eighth spot, and then to go and beat Chicago and St. Louis and Edmonton – three of the best teams in the league at that time – it was just a Cinderella story of no other. Not losing a home game until the Pittsburgh series certainly was a phenomenal run, and the way the crowd got into it and the town, it was pretty electric.”
 
Timeline to made decision: “I don’t know. I was saying July at some point you have to realize you need about 8 to 10 to 12 weeks to get in shape and get ready for the season. Our ownership situation is still up in the air, and once that’s figured out and directed in the right way, everything else will probably fall into place. We’re well under the cap, so we have room to move there as far as free agents. Marty Turco’s situation, that’s writing on the wall, and not knowing what [Jere] Lehtinen was going to do, so there’s a lot of unanswered questions there. But I guess it we’ll just let it play out. I’ve talked to [GM] Joe Nieuwendyk about it quite a bit.”
 
What do you expect tonight: “I’m sure it’ll be tough as the game winds down, just possibly being your last game, not only here, but in your career. So that’s going to be hard and difficult.”
 
Wear North Stars jersey tonight in warmups: “Ahhh, we’re going to possibly pull one out at some point during the game, and we’ll see how that goes over. But there’s nothing better than the old green North Star jerseys.”
 
Is Dallas only option, or talk to other teams: “Possibly. I think that would determine what situation was there, and who was there, the players that’d I’d know on that team and coaches and if I had any history with anybody. That would definitely be a last resort if it didn’t work out in Dallas.”
 
 

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