t sounds a little odd to say Mike Modano’s No. 9 is being “retired” Saturday.

“Retired’’ has such a finality to it, and the funny thing about the ceremony is that it really is just another part of Modano’s role in moving Dallas hockey forward. It’s a celebration that shines a spotlight on the game, and gets the Stars back into the consciousness of sports fans.

And that’s the perfect irony of the moment.

Even in retirement, Modano still is creating a buzz.

“He transcends time,’’ Stars president Jim Lites said with a chuckle. “He’s a huge part of Dallas Stars hockey, and that’s why we wanted him back with the team. His name, his presence, his aura, it’s all a part of who we are, and we need that going forward.’’

But Modano needs the Stars, too. He has spent a large portion of his life in Dallas. He is now a Texan. He has watched the sport grow from an oddity to a curiosity to a craze and back to an oddity again. He has witnessed the very best the Stars have to offer and some of the worst.

And he’s still a huge fan.

“I do think that’s the thing that sticks with you through all of this,’’ Modano said when asked about the hubbub surrounding the ceremony. “You get asked so many questions about your life and your history and you realize how much this team means to you. It’s like family. It’s a big part of who I am.’’

When the Stars raise Modano’s No. 9 to the rafters before Saturday’s game against Minnesota, there will be a lot to consider. The organization will honor the three players who already have their numbers retired Bill Masterton (19), Bill Goldsworthy (8) and Neal Broten (7). There will be a huge contingent of players who helped the Stars win the 1999 Stanley Cup as part of a Green Carpet celebration of the evening. And there will be much time reliving the greatness the team brought to fans of this area.

But for all of the looking back, Modano said he’s just as excited to look forward.

To be honest, the last few years of his career weren’t easy. He felt he was promised he would be a lifetime Star and that he would retire on his terms. But when owner Tom Hicks lost the team in bankruptcy, all promises went off the boards. The banks had no history with the Stars, and then-GM Joe Nieuwendyk had to make tough decisions on a tight budget.

Modano was not offered a contract. He went to Detroit for a season, got hurt, and saw his career die a slow and quiet death.

“It definitely didn’t end the way I expected,’’ Modano said. “That left a bitter taste for a while, and you question a lot of what happened and you think things could have been so much better. But, with time, and getting back here, you also start to see that things were pretty good.’’

Lites and Modano share that bond. Lites’ contract wasn’t renewed after the 2008 season, and he pursued other interests. But while he was working in New York, he always found himself seeking a television to watch the Stars game. He cared, and it killed him to see the team missing the playoffs and losing its fan base.

“It’s like your kids,’’ Lites said. ``You have your ups and downs on a day-to-day basis, but you want the best for them always. That’s how I always have felt about this team.’’

Modano said he gets the same vibe. He walked into the old practice rink in Irving in 1993 and was shocked at how primitive the facility was. He listened to fans that first season and couldn’t believe they didn’t understand the rules. He saw hockey in Texas on training wheels and said it was almost laughable at times.

But then he saw the Stars get better, he saw the fans get excited, he saw the city turn into a place where hockey wasn’t so foreign. And then he watched as practice rinks were built, and youth leagues sprung up, and kids started wearing hockey jerseys.

His hockey jersey.

“It’s humbling, really, because I did the same thing,’’ Modano said. “I imitated the big guys, I wanted to be like them.’’

And now it’s all coming full circle for Modano at a time like this. In returning to the Stars under new owner Tom Gaglardi, Modano has been trying to find a niche. He is an alternate governor and is learning about dealings with the NHL. He is an executive advisor and sits in on meetings at the draft, during free agency and at the trade deadline, and is learning about the inner workings of the team. He works with the marketing department and the PR department, and his “Little Rookies’’ program is getting kids back onto the ice and creating a new generation of hockey fans in Texas.

“When I first came here, Mike had a lot of opinions about the team and he wasn’t afraid to share them with me,’’ Gaglardi said. “He’s passionate about the team, and that’s the way it should be. He knows we have to move forward and try new things and not be stuck in the past, but I also think he knows that the past is important to the fans, and it’s important to us, too. I think his influence on everything around here shows you just how important the past was.’’