DALLAS, TX - Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk confirmed today that center Mike Modano will not be back for another season.

News 8 first broke the story Saturday night. Modano has spent his entire 22 year career with the Stars organization. Releasing him will allow Modano to explore free agncy Thursday.

I have to do what I feel is necessary in all my years of experience in order for this team to get better and grow, says Nieuwendyk. The strength of our team is with our youth and pushing forward. We have to try and find the next Mike Modano. We're never going to find the same Mike Modano, but in my mind we have to move forward.

Modano is the NHL's highest-scoring US born player. He recently said he felt good and was keeping up with summer conditioning work as if he were going to play another season.

While Modano's impact on the ice has diminished in recent years, it's in the locker room where he'll be missed the most. Young players could draw on his extensive NHL experience, but not anymore.

You're not going to replace Mike Modano, Nieuwendyk says. He's been a special person and a special player for so many years here in Dallas, but like all great players, and at some point you have to turn the page. It happened with the Cowboys and Emmitt Smith and I feel it's time we turn the page on Mike as well.

The Stars made it clear that Modano is welcome in the front office, but that scenario is on hold until the team has new ownership. In the meantime, Modano, who turned forty 22 days ago, is free to join another team if he chooses.

You can't replace Mike Modano, says Nieuwendyk. The moment he set foot here in Dallas in 1993, for him to come into a non hockey environment and steal the thunder of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith and become this icon that he's become is quite special and I lived seven years of it, so you don't replace that.

Regardless of what happens next, Nieuwendyk says Modano will always be a Dallas Star and the door will always be open.
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