It seems more and more that the Wings are looking at scoring another rejuvenation project here. And of course it’s worked in the past and could again. I just … can’t get on board with it this time. The more I read about Mike Modano at this stage in his career, the less I feel the optimistic view that he will be an impact player on the third line is correct.
I suppose the assessment of his will to play jives well with his decision to make extra sure by taking time. All sarcasm aside, by all means, take the time to be sure, Mike.
But if he argues himself into playing and then loses focus later in the season, it’d be a hit in the lockerroom. Certainly the Wings could overcome that, but it seems like it could possibly be more hassle than it’s worth.
If we could somehow slide his career timeline back three years, I’d be all for it. But since that’s impossible, we’re looking at a guy who increasingly reads like a player who has lost most of what made him valuable.
Modano could very well become another successful rejuvenation on the Wings’ part and change direction from the trajectory he’s been on for a couple years, but that’s an assumption with no backing evidence. You can’t use previous examples because each one is different.
Though you can also say the situation in Detroit will be different than in Dallas, so maybe Modano will react differently. I tend to think the other way is more likely given the pressure of a more demanding coach and a more demanding atmosphere, but perhaps that’s overly pessimistic (contrast that with my overt optimism on Abdelkader, I suppose).
This might be the clincher for me: just say for sake of argument that Modano signs and turns out to be a dud. The Wings take him off the third line and either move Abdelkader up or Filppula down by breaking up the Eurotwins. And they have a dud, probably unhappy (because he’ll either be scratched or fourth-lining it), veteran eating up cap space and a lockerroom stall. Maybe he manages to remain a good, if frustrated, teammate. Maybe not.
On the other hand, Abdelkader duds as third line center. The Wings move him to the fourth line and drop Fil down. You have three lines with three solid centers doing solid work or better. And … you don’t have an unhappy veteran possibly weighing down the lockerroom.
The possible price for Modano failure to be a positive on the third line seems heavy to me. The possible price for failure on Abdelkader’s part in the same spot seems much less so.
The payoff for Modano could be reasonable, assuming he’s not locked into that trajectory above. But so could the payoff for a Justin Abdelkader set loose to break out. And that route seems to me to carry less risk.
When the situation’s framed that way, what do you think?