Archive for September, 2011


Detroit Red Wings centerman Mike Modano announced his retirement today via Facebook and Twitter. The 41-year-old played 21 seasons and holds NHL records for the most goals, points, playoff points (145) and games played by a U.S.-born player.

The Michigan native was the first pick of the 1988 Entry Draft and was the last active player in the league who played for the Minnesota North Stars. He moved with the franchise to Dallas where he won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Dallas Stars and was one of less than a half dozen players who spent their entire career with one franchise until he signed with the Red Wings for the 2010-11 season.

“After a long summer of thinking about my future, I’ve come to the decision that it’s time to retire as a player from the NHL,” wrote Modano on his Facebook page. “There’s way too many people to thank here at this time and too much to say, so I have a press conference scheduled for early Friday afternoon. Check back Friday late afternoon for more. What a great ride it’s been!”

Several current and former NHLers shared their feelings with the traditional media about Modano’s retirement. Others posted congratulatory notes via social media.

“The greatest American player ever,” former teammate Brett Hull told The Hockey News. “I don’t think there’s one better. He’s by far No. 1.”

“Congrats to (Modano) on a great career,” tweeted Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul. “One of my favorites growing up. Always enjoyed playing against him, Sakic and Yzerman the most.

“Congrats to Mike Modano on a great career!” said Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan on his Twitter account. “The reason I picked number 9! What an awesome player, thanks for showing young Americans the way!”

Despite retirement, fans may not be seeing the last of Modano. Recently, he expressed interest in one day being part-owner of the Dallas Stars. Details will come if that scenario develops.

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The wait is over for Anaheim Ducks fans who anxiously anticipated the decision from right wing Teemu Selanne as to whether or not he’d return to the team this season. Via video, the Finnish Flash announced he will, in fact, play a nineteenth season with the club. The 41-year-old waited until he was sure that he was physically capable to play one more year.

During the summer, the Ducks’ elder statesman had surgery to repair damage to his left knee, and after some rest and rehab, he worked out on his own to get an idea of where his health stood. His decision to return offers a sigh of relief not only for fans but also for the team which relies on his leadership and point scoring.

There are two factors which may have contributed to Selanne’s decision to return for the 2011-12 season. One is that the Ducks will open their regular season in Selanne’s home town of Helsinki, Finland, and fans on both sides of the Atlantic were hoping to see the Finnish Flash suited up on October 7. The other factor is that Selanne’s first NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets, has returned to the league and begins its second incarnation this season. Jets fans would have been deeply disappointed if their favorite son had decided to retire. On that, they and Ducks fans agree.

The Ducks will play the Jets once in Winnipeg because for this (second) inaugural season, the Jets are in the Eastern Conference taking the place of the Atlanta Thrasher which made the move to Winnipeg. By the time Winnipeg was awarded the now defunct Thrashers franchise, all other team schedules and plans were set.  Therefore, the Jets won’t return to the Western Conference until the 2012-13 season when they will more than likely switch conferences with the Detroit Red Wings.  

Regardless of which conference claims the Jets, fans will be happy to welcome Selanne’s return. It’s the team with whom he won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 1993 with 72 goals, and it would bring his career full circle to play in Winnipeg one more time.

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Today, the sole member of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to survive last week’s plane crash died in Moscow’s Vishnevsky hospital. Alexander Galimov (26) suffered burns over 80 percent of his body and succumbed to his injuries.

The only other victim to survive the crash is crew member Alexander Sizov, who remains in serious condition at Moscow’s Sklifosovsky hospital. He was recently moved out of intensive care and is currently recovering in a general ward. The cause of the crash has yet to be determined.

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Word spread quickly throughout the global ice hockey community on Wednesday, Sept. 7 that a Yak-42 jet crashed on takeoff killing 43 people near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia. Most of the victims were members of the Kontinental Hockey League’s team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and its youth team who were on their way to play their season opener against Dynamo Minsk. Among the confirmed fatalities are players who also played in the NHL such as Coach Brad McCrimmon, forward Pavol Demitra, defenseman Ruslan Salei, and forward Josef Vasicek. California fans were particularly familiar with Demitra who formerly played for the LA Kings and Salei who spent ten years with the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Salei’s last NHL team was the Detroit Red Wings.

Two passengers survived the crash but are in critical condition. Russian forward Alexander Galimov suffered burns over 80 percent of his body. Both survivors were taken to a Moscow hospital on Thursday morning.

Following the tragic plane crash which killed Lokomotiv’s entire team, the KHL has suspended all games for five days as the league, families, and fans of the deceased mourn their loss.

The KHL is composed of 24 clubs based throughout Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia. Speaking on Thursday about the tragedy, KHL President Alexander Medveded said that he will ask each team in the league to volunteer up to three players to be placed in a draft pool for the new Lokomotiv team. Lokomotiv would then have 40 to 45 players from which to choose a new roster. Additionally, the team will promote some players from its youth team to its senior roster.

Junior team coach Pyotr Vorobyov will be named the new coach of Lokomotiv. He coached the team to its 1997 Russian Superleague championship. Yaroslavl Lokomotiv president Yury Yakovlev also announced on Saturday that the team will not participate in the KHL during the 2011-12 season.

“The main priority now is to take care of the relatives and to pay last tribute to the late players and staff. The other aim is to re-build a competitive team,” Yakovlev said, according to Russia Today. “This will take some time as well as requiring human resources. But we are determined to resume participation in the KHL in [2012-13].”

This is the fourth time in the past three months that the hockey community has been rocked by sad news. Before this latest blow occurred, the sport scarcely had time to recover from the deaths of Derek Boogaard in May, Rick Rypien in mid August, and most recently Wade Belak at the end of August.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims of the Lokomotiv accident. They will be sorely missed.

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