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It's not like Mike Modano hasn't played through distractions before.

There was that breakup with longtime girlfriend Kerry Nelson. There was that time his Stanley Cup ring wound up on eBay. There was that time his financial adviser mismanaged a huge chunk of his savings.

So losing the captaincy, heck, that's small potatoes.

All right, maybe not that small, but Modano said that it's something he can handle.

"I wasn't happy, I didn't think I did a bad job and I was disappointed," he said. "But it's time to move forward, and that's what I'm going to do. There's no use thinking about it or talking about. It's not going to help us play any better this year."

And Modano wants to play better. Even after leading the team last season with 77 points, even with a strong comeback from a distraction-filled 2003-04 campaign, even having proven critics wrong for the third ... or fourth ... or fifth time, Modano still wants to play better.

And the funny thing is, he can.

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