Star looking like old self

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

Mike Modano recaptured a little of his old magic this week.

The Dallas Stars veteran looked like his old self in a 3-2 victory over Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night in the Lone Star State. Modano assisted on the Stars' go-ahead goal and scored the winner while shorthanded on a pretty give-and-go play with Brenden Morrow.

"I've been feeling good. I've been feeling good since we've been back on the ice," said Modano, one of many skilled players who should be rejuvenated by the obstruction crackdown and year away from the game.

"It was a good break -- mentally and physically to get away from the game, come back and have a strong finish to my career. Hopefully the three, four, five years -- however many I play -- are good ones. Ones I can fall back on and say I left on a high."

Modano had a disappointing 2003-04 season, posting just 14 goals and 30 assists, but it was a tough transition year for the franchise, which lost cornerstone defencemen Derian Hatcher (to Detroit via free agency) and Darryl Sydor (in a cost-cutting trade with Columbus).

"That year was a bad year for our organization. It was a tough year for a lot of players and for the team. A lot of turmoil that we went though," said Modano, in town to face the Calgary Flames last night at the Saddledome.

" (We were) trying to re-establish our identity. There's a bond when you have a championship team and those type of players. They were quality guys on and off the ice and they were sorely missed that year."

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter says statistics don't do Modano justice. The solid two-way player doesn't get the credit he deserves as a defensive forward.

"Mike Modano is still a star player in this league," said Sutter. "Obviously the star guys get recognized because of numbers but he's still one of the top all-around centremen in the National Hockey League."

This year, Modano plans to be the kind of player he was before the last NHL season.

"I set goals. I write them down and I kind of glance at them every day, making sure they're fresh in my memory," he said, adding the Stars managed to hold on to a good group of players despite the new salary-cap system.

"Our core of guys still came back," he said.


Videos

Photos