Modano anticipated Stars' decision

DALLAS -- The end of an era was made complete Wednesday when Dallas Stars center and icon Mike Modano said he was no longer coming back to the only NHL team he's known for 22 years.

Modano, who thanked the organization, the fans and the city of Dallas, said he's not sure yet if he will retire, adding that he still has the hunger to keep playing.

He said he wants to take a few weeks before deciding if he wants to continue playing and could decide around the time the free-agency period begins.

"In some ways I expected something of this nature to unfold," Modano said of the Stars' decision Tuesday not to bring him back. "I knew it was coming to be that time, that decision, and that hard choice [needed] to be made, obviously from a GM standpoint. Eventually, you need to go in a direction that's going to be best for the team and I feel for the future. So I know there's a lot of 'he said, she said' things about the rumors about me playing or not playing, but those decisions will be made in the next couple of weeks when the free-agent market opens up."

Modano was no longer a front-line player in his last two seasons with the Stars. He was a fourth-line center who saw time on the power play, a disappointing descent for one of the NHL's premier American-born hockey players.

Modano was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, made his NHL debut during the 1989 playoffs and has become the all-time leader among U.S.-born players in points and goals, collecting all of them in a Stars uniform. He moved with the organization to Dallas in 1993 and has been the face of the franchise since.

If he decides to return to the ice, he would spend the remaining years of his career in another city with a reduced role -- much like it was in Dallas -- and that would suit Modano just fine.

"I think my role doesn't have a major impact in that decision," he said. "I want to have a successful team [to play for] and a team that could go deep in the playoffs. That's one factor in it to make one last run at it."

Modano doesn't have a particular team he's interested in but noted that he was familiar with Western Conference franchises. He's talked to former teammates over the last few days about what to do and plans on talking with players who have competed in the NHL into their late 30s and early 40s.

"It's hard to say any particular team," he said. "There's tons that you see that could be real easy to play in some of those situations. I'm very familiar with the west, those cites and those personnels. I've been there enough the last dozen years or so after the lockout when our schedules were rearranged.

"Just being 22 years around, you know personnel and teams, there's something I think about that that could be fun to be a part of."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.