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On Ice

2002-03 Season Preview

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Stars� Changes Bode Well for Modano in 2002-2003

Check Back Every Tuesday for Mike�s Weekly Wrap-ups!

 

While there are a lot of changes in the 2002-2003 Dallas Stars lineup from recent years, one major constant remains � the leadership of Mike Modano.Entering his 14th NHL season, the 32-year-old is firmly entrenched as one of the game�s premier players.With new head coach, Dave Tippett, and the addition of Team USA line mate Bill Guerin, �Mo� is primed for an offensive explosion that may see him eclipse 90 points for the third time in his career.

 

�Coach Tippett is a big power-play guy and if the NHL enforces the new rules, that�s going to mean a lot of power play time,� said Modano.�Billy (Bill Guerin) is so easy to play with.He just goes up and down the wing and plays tough, can score and get in those areas that Brett (Hull) used to get into.You know where he is going to be.�

 

In addition to Guerin, Ulf Dahlen has returned to Dallas and played primarily on Modano�s wing during the preseason.That�s a place he is quite familiar with from a previous stint with the Stars.

 

�I love Ulfie,� said Modano.�We never should have traded him.We had a couple of great years together in Minnesota and he was here in Dallas our first year.He�s just a real simple, easy player.He does a lot of things really well with the puck.He�s smart and strong and can check and play offense.Coach (Tippett) is going to stress defense just like every good team does and we�re going to have to commit to defense and offense at the same time.�

 

Missing from the Stars game under previous head coach Ken Hitchcock was the presence of a true enforcer to protect the team�s stars.In particular, Modano has felt worn-down toward the end of the past few seasons due to constant pounding from teams that did not fear retribution from his teammates.Things will be different this year due to the addition of tough-guy Aaron Downey who likes to be called �The Undertaker.�

 

�During the course of a season, teams take liberties on you and when they know you don�t have guys to back it up, they can beat you down,� said Modano.�That was our case last year and we ran out of gas at the end of the year which was a big factor in our (poor) record at home.Hopefully, (Downey�s) presence can correct that and we can have a better record in Dallas.That will be important as playoffs come and the season kind of goes on its way.�

 

One of the foremost experts on the current game, ESPN hockey analyst Bill Clement, sees this as an MVP season for Modano.

 

�I picked Mike to win the Hart Trophy (as MVP).No. 1, I think the long off-season was mandatory for Mike.He was burned out as any player I�ve ever seen.No. 2, taking what he learned from Ken Hitchcock out of the mouth of Dave Tippett, I think Mike will be freed.I think Mike functioned at a very high level under an oppressive environment.He should have a great year.�

 

Despite the new firepower and hints of some offensive freedom not enjoyed in the recent past, Modano still cautions against moving away from the two-way mindset and knows it will take time to gel.

 

�We are still trying to figure out our identity (with the new system and new players), and that takes time,� said Modano.�We still want to be known as a team that wins those 1-0, 2-1 games.But it�s nice to know that we have an advantage offensively, if we need a goal, we know we can get it.�

 

Consistency Make Mike a Top �Poolie� Pick

 

The start of a new NHL season also means the start of thousands of Fantasy/Pool leagues across North America.Fantasy sources agree that another big year is in store for the Stars' marquee player:

 

The Sports Forecaster

 

�Former Stars coaches Bob Gainey and Ken Hitchcock were helpful in molding Modano into perhaps hockey�s best two-way player.As a result, Modano�s numbers have been lower than what they could be.He was one of the few Stars to perform well last season, finishing tied for ninth in NHL scoring and leading the team in goals, assists, points, shots and takeaways.His combination of speed, vision and a lethal shot makes him a threat on every shift.He�s especially dangerous when killing penalties.With Dave Tippett now coaching Dallas, and with Bill Guerin on his line, Modano should be given more free reign.Expect a big offensive season.

 

PROJECTION: 42 goals, 54 assists, 96 points

 

McKeen�s Hockey Pool Yearbook

 

�A rare talent and one of the most exciting players in the game today, Modano combines great skating ability and elite puck skills with remarkable ability to execute at top speed, while his second-straight Frank Selke Trophy nomination as the league�s top defensive forward speaks volumes about his evolution into a complete package.Didn�t miss a beat without Brett Hull and is historically a safe and durable pick with ten 70-point seasons and two top-10 NHL finishes in the past three years.�

 

PROJECTION: 35 goals, 50 assists, 85 points

 

Pro Hockey Review & Fantasy Guide

 

Modano is one of the best two-way players in the NHL, having really learned to love Dallas� strict defensive system.In the past six years, he has averaged a plus-23 at the end of the season.Modano generates most of his scoring chances with his legs, his speed being his best attribute.He�s averaging over a point per game for his career, and with newly-acquired Bill Guerin set to play on his right side, Modano should be in for another superb season.

 

PROJECTION: 34 goals, 46 assists, 80 points

 

The Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Guide

 

For five consecutive full seasons, Modano had from 81 to 84 points before a slight dip to 77.There aren�t many more dependable players out there for point production.

 

PROJECTION: 35 goals, 48 assists, 83 points

 

Tuesday�s at mikemodano.com Feature Weekly Wrap-ups

 

This year, mikemodano.com will provide weekly summaries of Mike�s week in the NHL every Tuesday.Check back for notes, quotes, stats all season long as you follow your favorite Star!

 

Multimedia Feature on Mike at NHLPA.COM

 

Follow the link below to a preseason multimedia feature on Mike:

 

http://www.nhlpa.com/Content/FEATURES/feature_stories.asp?ID=3132