DALLAS, TX - It was a day every professional athlete faces sooner or later: retirement. Today an emotional Mike Modano faced that day in Dallas. Modano had trouble getting through the first sentence of his prepared statement and from there his emotions never let up.

You wonder what this day would be like, Modano said. It does feel a little overwhelming.

Modano thanked many of the people he met along the way, but in the course of his 21 year career, the list is long. The 41 year old native of Livonia, Michigan retired as the NHL's all-time leading scorer among American-born players, with 561 goals and 1,374 points.

I look back at 21 years with one franchise, I think that's what made me most proud of anything, Modano said with his voice breaking up. The fans in Minnesota and Dallas have been phenomenal. I can't thank them enough.

Before the start of his press conference, Modano signed an honorary one-day contract so he could retire as a member of the Dallas Stars.

It's been amazing to look back at the time I had with a lot of people It's tough to say goodbye, Modano said. I think we all think we can play forever. You think the game a certain way forever but it's obvious that physically, things don't match up anymore.

Modano was the first overall pick of the 1988 draft by the Minnesota North Stars, and the flashy center was the face of the franchise when the team moved to Dallas in 1993. Modano helped the team win its only Stanley Cup in 1999.

Heplayed last season in Detroit, near his boyhood home. But he wanted to retire in his adopted hometown -- as a Star.
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