By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
One sunny trip to the West Coast won't channel Lord Stanley's ghost just yet, but remember, Dallas is more a winner's town than a sports town. Tuesday's Game 3 didn't initially sell out, but you could feel the buzz building around the team's "black out" promotion, the prospect of playing into May and the chance—maybe the last one, in fact—to salute Modano.
He's not the 20-something heartthrob you remember, omnipresent around Primo's happy hours and NHL scoring leaders. Now he's pushing 38. Married to Willa Ford. Accomplished and canonized as the league's all-time leading American-born scorer and the metroplex's longest-tenured sports star. His shirttail still flaps in the trailing breeze and he can still—as in Game 2—bring the heat from the blue line, but even with two years remaining on his contract, you never know when he'll up and retire.
"You go into every year thinking this might be your last chance—that the opportunity might slip by or the door is slowly closing," Modano said last week. "You want to take advantage of that and make the most of it, and you throw it all out there and then make that retirement decision later."
That evaluation can wait. As can Tippett's security and Turco's legacy and the Ducks' repeat hopes and even Brett Hull's urgency. As the co-general manager strolled through the StarCenter lobby last week, he peered toward the windows surrounding his team's practice rink only to find them cloaked in butcher-paper secrecy.
"Really, what are they doing that we can't watch?" Hull grumbled over a cup of coffee. "We got some secret new defense strategy or what?"
Paranoia? Pressure? Purpose? Whatever.
Anything to postpone the obit.