You don’t usually look to People for your Texas hockey news … except when it’s about a certain former Dallas Stars great who has spent the past five years as the less famous half of a celebrity couple with singer/actress/ Dancing With the Stars contestant Willa Ford.
As People’s Jennifer Garcia first reported, Ford and Mike Modano are divorcing:
“It is with great sadness that after five years of marriage, Willa and Mike have decided to divorce,” they tell PEOPLE in an exclusive joint statement through her rep. “They remain friends and wish each other success and happiness.”
The couple was never so iconic as to earn a portmanteau (“Milla”? “Wike”? Why not “Fordano”?), but back when sports blogs were still immature and sort of sexist, The Big Lead asked, “Is Willa Ford hockey’s hottest significant other? Or do you go Elisha Cuthbert?”
Less than a month ago, the pair were at the ESPYs:
Could becoming newly single lend more credence to Modano’s recent talk of coming back to play? Last month, after the Minnesota Wild shocked the hockey world by landing the two biggest free agents, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, Modano reached out to the city where he began his career with this tweet:
Can I come back and play in Minnesota too..?
— Mike Modano (@9modano) July 4, 2012
That was followed by several other tweets which made it clear that Mo was joking.
Maybe. “I was kind of kidding, and kind of not,” he told Jess Myers of 1500ESPN radio in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
A Michigan native, Modano finished his career playing for the Detroit Red Wings during the 2010-2011 season, which was cut short for him, literally, when he was injured by a skate blade. He then signed a ceremonial contract with the Stars, officially retiring on September 22 of last year. He remains involved with hockey in the Metroplex as a minority owner of the Central Hockey League’s Allen Americans (along with former Stars Ed Belfour and Craig Ludwig).
Mo was also recently selected for induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, with the enshrinement taking place in Dallas on October 15. During a press conference announcing the induction last month, Modano told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News that he was working out and liked the idea that a possible NHL lockout could give him more time to get in shape (and a shorter season to endure).
But his feelings clearly are ambivalent. On the one hand, he said:
“I’ve never really been able to fully close the door on [the way his career ended],” he said. “I think my last year in Detroit was a lot of fun, and I wish it would have ended differently, with the injury and everything. I wish it would have ended better, and there’s a taste in your mouth about leaving the way it