Welcome back Fred Modin, who plays his first game against Lightning since 2006 trade
How about this for a stat: Fredrik Modin on Saturday plays his first game against the Tampa Bay Lightning since his June 2006 trade to the Blue Jackets. Modin is with the Thrashers now, and last season had a fling with the Kings for the playoffs, but it's something to believe the guy said he hasn't even been in Tampa since he moved on.
Let me say this up front to get it out of the way, I think on looking back to the 2004 Stanley Cup season, Modin, a bull-strong left wing, might be the most underrated person on that team. I mean, the guy had 29 goals and 57 points, and a really under-the-radar, eight goals and 19 points in 23 playoff games. He was just a horse.
Part of his lack of exposure was that a few other players were having memorable playoff runs as well. But Modin also never wanted the spotlight. He was so laid back, and didn't seem to even want to talk about himself, that he just kind of got lost in the swirl of events.
Here is what I remember about Modin. The guy was always hurt to some degree or another, but never, ever said a word about his injuries. we joke that he would be limping through the locker room, and you would ask him how he was and he'd smile and say "fine." Like I said, we joked about it, but it was pretty much true.
Anyway, Modin said he has kept his house in the Tampa Bay area and has rented it out since in June 2006 he was traded to the Blue Jackets in the Marc Denis trade, a disastrous trade for the Lighting on several levels. He said he hasn't been in the house one day since.
"Tampa is always going to be a very special place for me and my family," Modin said before Saturday's game. "A lot of good things happened in our years here. This was home for us for seven years."
Modin, 36, has struggled the past few years with injuries. In fact, he hasn't played more than 50 games in a season since 2006-07. He says he is healthy now, though.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Lightning coach Guy Boucher said center Dominic Moore will play, and it appears center Nate Thompson will play as well. Both have been bothered with groin injuries. The early plan seems to have defenseman Matt Smaby and left wing Mattias Ritola as scratches. ... Former Lightning assistant coach Craig Ramsay is now coaching the Thrashers, and said he sees a lot of similarities to when he and coach John Tortorella took over a struggling Tampa Bay team. "When I came here, the first game there was 6,200 people in the building, and it was a pretty quiet event. Then I saw us play and I knew why. I think we had some good people here, we have good players, we started to bring in, and quickly, some veteran guys. So, it's a building process. But we've got that same level of enthusiasm we created here in Tampa. We have a chance to make something good happen." ... Ramsay said he knew he had to say something to his players Friday night after goaltender Ondrej Pavelac fell unconscious to the ice for no apparent reason in the game's first few minutes against the Capitals. He said he told his players, "Do you really want to do what's best for all of us, including the player who is hurt or ill. They would not want you to fold it up and go home. They want you to play hard. They wouldn't want to feel 1) bad enough that they're hurt or sick and now you guys gave up. And we didn't do that. we were proud of the guys in the way they listened and decided, 'Let's go play.' " And they won, 4-2. ... Here's something to watch for: Modin's checking line facing up to Steven Stamkos' line. Modin's line faced Alex Ovechkin's line on Friday night. Ovechkin was held to an assist. ... Boucher is particularly worried about the first 10 minutes of the game. He does not want his players caught up too much in the emotions of the home opener. "The danger is over-excitement," he said. "When you get over-excitement, the danger is to play the game before it is played, emotionally, so you're good for the first 10 minutes, 15 minutes of the first period, then you've got no juice for the rest of the game. So, we have to make sure we stay steady and keep our emotions in check, especially for the first 10 minutes. We do want to come out hard, but there's a way to do it without draining yourself mentally and emotionally."