Mike Modano's storied career with the Dallas Stars ended last summer, but the eight-time All-Star opted to join the Detroit Red Wings to make one more run at his second Stanley Cup.
Now, he returns to Dallas.
In what will likely be a highly emotional appearance at American Airlines Center, Modano will take the ice as a visitor when the Red Wings face the Stars on Thursday night.
Modano spent 20 seasons with the Stars franchise after being selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft in 1988, when the club was the Minnesota North Stars.
The center went on to become the franchise's all-time leader with 557 goals, 802 assists and 1,359 points while leading Dallas (2-0-0) to its only Stanley Cup in 1999. He also holds the NHL records for the most goals and points scored by an American-born player.
Modano, though, struggled through last season with the Stars due to various injuries and finished with a career-low 30 points in 59 games. With Dallas missing the playoffs for a second consecutive time, Modano was informed he wouldn't be re-signed. He began to mull retirement before Detroit (2-0-1) signed him to a one-year deal.
The allure of winning another Stanley Cup was a deciding factor in continuing his career.
"I think the possibility to win is something that you're always chasing after when you're older," the 40-year-old Modano said. "If there wasn't a chance to win, I probably would have retired."
Detroit has a track record of getting contributions from older players in lesser roles. In the past, the club has signed Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, Larry Murphy, Chris Chelios, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, who all helped the Red Wings win Stanley Cups in their late 30s or early 40s.
Modano said he spoke with Hull - a former Dallas teammate- and Chelios before deciding to sign with Detroit.
"Seeing older players come here and have great success, they seem to get a second wind coming here," Modano said.
Modano's contributions for the Red Wings started early, as he scored on his first shot in a 4-0 season-opening win over Anaheim on Friday. He wasn't nearly as effective Tuesday, recording a minus-3 rating while missing his shootout attempt in a 5-4 loss to Colorado.
He'll now try to help Detroit end a five-game losing streak in Dallas and spoil his former club's home opener.
The Stars, who went 3-1-0 against the Wings in 2009-10, are looking to open a season with three consecutive victories for the first time since winning five in a row four years ago.
Dallas' strong start continued Saturday when Mike Ribeiro scored on the final shootout attempt to clinch a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders.
Ribeiro has three assists through two games, but his start to the season was marred Sunday night when he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication at a suburban Dallas restaurant. Plano police said Ribeiro and three others were released from jail before dawn Monday.
General manager Joe Nieuwendyk claimed the team will handle the matter internally.
Despite the incident, the Stars are feeling confident.
"We're a confident team, but we realize we have to be a team that can close games out too," left wing Brenden Morrow told the team's official website. "As a whole, we feel like we are catching on, we are grasping our system. We are pretty confident with our start so far."
Morrow has scored a team-high three goals, including two against the Islanders, but has failed to get a point in Dallas' last eight home meetings with Detroit.