Modano tearfully calls it a career

The all-time leading scorer among American-born day contract and retired as a member of the Dallas Stars.

Modano made the announcement Wednesday on his Facebook page and held a news conference Friday in Dallas to make it official. After signing his one-day deal and putting on the Stars sweater with the No. 9 one last time, he tearfully reflected on his 21 seasons in the NHL.

"Thought I'd get through the first sentence," Modano said as he quickly choked up. "You wonder what this day would be like. It's pretty overwhelming."

The 41-year-old Modano finished his career with 561 goals and 1,374 points. He is 23rd all-time in goals scored and 22nd in points, but is first in both categories for players born in the United States.

Modano spent his first 20 seasons with the Dallas/Minnesota franchise after the club made him the top overall pick of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. The Michigan native then went to play for the Detroit Red Wings last year.

"I look back at 21 years with one franchise [including the lockout-canceled campaign of 2004-05], and I think that's what made me the most proud of anything," Modano stated as he wiped away tears. "The fans in Minnesota and Dallas have been phenomenal. I can't thank them enough."

The Minnesota North Stars made Modano the second United States-born player to be selected with the top overall pick. After making his debut during the 1989 postseason, he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 1990 and helped the North Stars to the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals, which the team lost to Pittsburgh, then was the centerpiece for a franchise that left hockey's U.S. hotbed after the 1992-93 season to blaze a new trail in the south.

"We kind of cringed," Modano recalled of learning about the team's move. "We didn't know what to expect in Texas. It was gutsy. We knew that going into it, it was going to be a tough sell. We knew those first few games in Reunion [Arena], when they were announcing offsides and icing, it would be tough."

Modano blossomed into a superstar in Dallas and helped transform the franchise into a perennial Stanley Cup contender. The Stars won their lone title in 1999, beating the Buffalo Sabres, then lost to New Jersey in the Cup Finals the following spring.

"The pinnacle was '99," Modano wistfully remembered. "It was one of those years. It was Stanley Cup or nothing. We had a team built [for a deep playoff run]. Those two runs made a buzz here in Dallas."

Modano holds numerous Stars records, including 1,459 games played, 557 goals and 1,359 points. He also has the most 30-goal seasons in club history with nine, reaching 50 goals for the only time during the 1993-94 campaign -- the team's initial season in Dallas.

In addition, he is also the club's all-time leader in postseason goals (58), assists (87) and points (145) in 174 playoff games.

The contract Modano signed Friday was symbolically worth $999,999 to match his uniform number.

Modano said he had thought about retirement for much of the last four years.

"There were times when I found it difficult to play," Modano remarked about his motivation the last few years. "I thought I might have been done after the last season in Dallas. When Detroit called, I thought it would revitalize me and it did."

He played just 40 games during the 2010-11 campaign for his home state team and scored four goals while adding 11 assists.

"To play for the Wings... it was certainly was a thrill," he noted.

Modano said he has no definitive future plans, but is exploring the possibility of doing some broadcasting for the Stars.

In addition to his NHL stardom, Modano also played on three Olympic teams for the United States and won a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. He also helped the Americans win the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996.