To locals, he to be simply known as “The Captain.” unfortunately overshadowed through two men named Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux over most of his career, Steve Yzerman ultimately got the respect the deserved in 1997 when he ultimately led the Detroit Red wing to the ever-elusive Stanley Cup, a dryness of 42 years had actually ended. The Captain ended up being a legend.

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Early Life the Steve Yzerman

Yzerman to be born in Cranbrook, brothers Columbia. He began skating in ~ 3 years old, but was still 2 years as well young to play arranged hockey through his older brother Mike. In ~ 5 years old Yzerman started playing arranged hockey, however really can not skate all the well. In fact, his first goal was scored due to the fact that he had actually fallen under in prior of the opponents net and an the contrary defenseman deflected the puck turn off a teammate. Since Yzerman to be the critical to touch the puck, that was given credit for the goal. This was absolutely not a beginning befitting a legendary career.
Steve Yzerman (Photo through Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Yzerman played plenty of sports together a child, however at 10 year old and also after relocating to Nepean, Ontario, a suburb the Ottawa, he would begin to focus most of his time on hockey. His team would victory a peewee title at period 12. By period 14, Yzerman began playing for the Nepean Raiders, a small A Tier 2 team in the main Junior Hockey league (CJHL), which had actually players almost everywhere up to two decades old. He would certainly go on come win two trophies that year together the league’s Rookie of the Year and Outstanding Midget in the League, and also would also be named a an initial team All-Star center.In 1981, in ~ the period of 16, Yzerman to be drafted by the Peterborough Petes that the Ontario Hockey organization (OHL). He would certainly go on come score 155 point out in 114 gamings over two seasons with Peterborough. If his numbers were hardly “earth shattering” for a possibility at the time, he had actually demonstrated the two-way play the would come to be a staple of his video game later in his NHL career.

Yzerman beginning the NHL

During 1983, once Yzerman came to be eligible because that the NHL Draft, Detroit to be not known as “Hockey Town.” In fact, the arena was typically three-quarters empty and selling ticket was exceptionally difficult. The Red Wings had actually not to be a an extremely successful team, only making the playoffs twice in the vault 17 years and also called “The Dead Things,” by numerous in the area. Brand-new ownership had actually purchased the team the previous summer, Mike and also Marian Ilitch of little Caesars’ Pizza fame and the team was plainly rebuilding. The team’s choose in 1983 would certainly be the very first step to return the team to respectability.Yzerman was not number one ~ above the team’s desire perform for the draft, that designation would fall to play LaFontaine, one more center who had actually happened to be born and also bred in the city that Detroit, miscellaneous the team believed would aid sell tickets. However, with the 3rdpick in the draft, LaFontaine to be selected through the brand-new York Islanders, one spot before the Red Wings would pick. V LaFontaine gone, the Red wings would pick Steve Yzerman fourth overall.
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Steve Yzerman and also Sid Abel throughout Sid Abel Night in ~ Joe louis Arena. (THW Archives)
Yzerman make his NHL debut top top October 5, 1983. The team lost to the Winnipeg Jets, however, Yzerman had a successful game scoring a goal and an assist. He would certainly go on come score 39 goals and also 87 points in his very first year earning every rookie team honors, yet coming second in voting for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year come Tom Barrasso.The next couple of periods would it is in a roller-coaster ride for Yzerman. The would endure his an initial severe injury throughout the 1985-86 season, a broken collarbone that would limit him to 59 games. However, during the adhering to season (1986-87), Yzerman would obtain the honor of being named the youngest captain in the background of the franchise at 21 year old and led the team to the Campbell Conference Finals, just to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Edmonton Oilers.

Yzerman’s large Years

The next six periods in Detroit would see impressive individual success because that Yzerman, but small success because that the team. From the 1987-88 season v the 1992-93 season, Yzerman would certainly score more than 100 clues every season, including career high of 65 goals and 155 points during the 1988-89 season. He would accumulate an remarkable 331 goals and 732 point out in 466 games throughout this time. The Red wing would only make it past the first round of the playoffs once during this period. Little did the fans recognize at the time, however, countless of the players the organization drafted or acquired during this time, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, Dino Ciccarelli and Ray Sheppard would go on to form the nucleus the would give this team the success it had been seeking for years.In 1993, the Red wings hired legendary coach Scotty Bowman. Bowman had actually won 7 Stanley Cups, 6 the them as a coach. The company hoped that Bowman’s experience and also Yzerman’s leadership and determination would combine for a to win result. Unfortunately, it would not start on a hopeful note.
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Coach Scotty bowman (Photo through Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
On October 21, 1993, Yzerman was hit from behind by thomas Steen and also crashed right into the boards. A herniated disc would reason Yzerman to miss the following 26 gamings and significant surgery to repair the decaying would problem Yzerman for the very first time. The knew his determination would gain him ago from the injury, but he wondered whether he would be the exact same player ~ above his return. Yzerman’s dedication, and also extreme yongin for pain would allow him to get ago on the ice cream 2 months before many thought he would. He would go ~ above to have actually a good season, scoring 82 clues in 58 games, helping the Red Wings command the organization in scoring. Unfortunately, the Red Wings would certainly be upset in the very first round the the playoffs through the mountain Jose Sharks, a team the on paper was vastly worse to the Wings.

Yzerman’s NHL job Continues

During the off-season, Yzerman would require a second surgery because that his neck and back pain that plagued him all season, a result of the fight by Steen. He would sit and also wait the end the profession rumors and rehabilitate over the summer, hoping again the he can come ago the same player. He would not be the same player the following season, however, that was not a an outcome of his injury or subsequent rehabilitation.Bowman was additionally busy during the offseason. He to be looking to develop a brand-new game setup for the upcoming season. Combine coach Barry Smith had returned native a coaching stint in Sweden, saying a protective checking system he uncovered while there referred to as the “left wing lock.” It to be a an easy system that had one forward, ~ above the left side of the rink, staying earlier and helping out the defenders while trying to prevent an strike by the opposition.
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Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red wings (Photo through Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty images Studios/Getty Images)
When Yzerman landed on camp, he realized that to buy right into this device would typical sacrificing personal statistics for the great of the team. Always a team very first player, he had actually no problem doing this together his goal was to victory the Stanley Cup, no earn an individual accolades because that his statistics. Yzerman devoted himself to finding out this system. His teammates would check out their captain believe in it and also they would as well.The 1994-1995 season would certainly not start as scheduled. Sustained by increasing players salaries, numerous teams were struggling financially. Owners and players could not agree top top a new contract. As a result, the owner locked the end the players until the two sides finally came to an agreement. The season started on January 20th, 1995, 103 days native the booked start.The lockout no seem to influence the Red wings at all. Lock stormed the end of the door on fire, armed with a brand-new “defense first” format that the captain bought into, and also the remainder of the team followed. They would certainly be vested the Presidents’ Trophy together the top team in the continuous season v a record of 33-11-4. The team would then storm through the very first three ring of the playoffs beating the Dallas Stars, mountain Jose Sharks and also Chicago Blackhawks in five, four and five games, respectively. For the an initial time since 1966, the Red Wings were going to the Stanley Cup finals.Unfortunately, Detroit would certainly be brushed up by the new Jersey Devils. While Yzerman play well, he to be hindered by a knee injury suffered in the second round versus the Sharks and also would no be in ~ the optimal of his game. Once again, Yzerman and also the Red Wings would certainly go home disappointed.

Another daunting Offseason

That summer would be a daunting one for Yzerman. When it no the an initial time he had been affiliated in profession rumors, this was the first time in several seasons he would certainly be starting the year off totally healthy. The Ottawa Senators, native his hometown, were actively looking to acquire Yzerman. Come the best of his ability, he just ignored the rumors and went around his business preparing because that the upcoming season.When the season began in October, Yzerman was still a Red Wing.1995-1996 would check out more an excellent regular season success for the Red Wings, and personal success because that Yzerman. The wings would destroy team after ~ team ~ above the means to a record-breaking 62 win season, outscoring the the opposite 325 come 181, and also a second straight Presidents Trophy. Yzerman would certainly score 95 points (36 goals and also 59 assists), including his 500th job goal.The playoffs would certainly be an ext difficult. Regardless of outscoring the Winnipeg jets 20-10, it would take the Red wings 6 games to advance. The 2nd round would certainly be even tougher through the St. Louis Blues, led by Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull, pushing the wing to video game 7. What would take place in game 7 would be one of the biggest moments in Yzerman’s career. The score would stay 0-0 v the very first overtime. Within the first minute the the 2nd overtime, Yzerman would certainly steal the puck native Gretzky at facility ice, skate previous the blue line and launch a rocket of a shot past Blues goaltender Jon Casey. The Wings were going to the conference finals as soon as again. Castle would confront off versus the Colorado Avalanche.
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Claude Lemieux together a member of the san Jose Sharks (Jill Goodell/Flickr)
It was a nasty, hard-fought, bloody series. The Avalanche would certainly storm right into Detroit and take the very first two gamings from the Wings. The groups would split the next two in Colorado providing the Avalanche a 3-1 series lead. Detroit would certainly fight ago with a 5-2 victory in game 5 yet game 6 would certainly not go too for the Red Wings. In a game that would certainly ignite a heated rivalry in between the two teams for year to come, the football player battled and also even the coaches would certainly argue throughout the benches. The occasion that propelled the rivalry end the peak would be the infamous inspect to the ago of Kris Draper by Claude Lemieux the the Avalanche. The hit would send Draper face very first into the boards resulting in several lacerations and a damaged jaw. Also with revenge on their minds, the Red Wings could not success the game and the Avalanche would certainly go ~ above to victory the Stanley Cup the season. One more disappointing end to a season for Yzerman and the city of Detroit.During the offseason, Yzerman would certainly play because that Team Canada throughout the people Cup that Hockey (replacing the Canada Cup). When Canada would shed to Team USA in the ideal of three final series, Yzerman would certainly play through Brendan Shanahan because that the an initial time and also was an extremely impressed v what he carried to the team, on and also off the ice.

A Dream comes True

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Eric Lindros (Credit: Steve Babineau/Allsport)
During game 4, through Detroit top the collection 3-0, Eric Lindros finally scored his first goal of the series with 14 secs left, however it wasn’t enough. Yzerman, the Red Wings and also the city the Detroit had lastly seen their dreams come true. The Red Wings were the 1997 Stanley Cup Champions!

Yzerman’s Cup Win

The next several years would view playoff disappointed haunt Yzerman and also the Red Wings, although Yzerman would see some much more personal accolades winning the frank J. Selke Trophy in 2000, awarded to the league’s best defensive forward.Yzerman would obtain one more shot at the cup in 2002. If girlfriend were among the few that still no respect and understand what make Yzerman “The Captain”, this was the year the you were convinced. Yzerman turned in one of the most amazing seasons by any player in NHL history. Yzerman, virtually literally playing on one leg due to injury, led Canada to its first Olympic yellow medal in 50 years and then led the wings to their 3rd Stanley Cup championship in 5 years.

Yzerman’s last Years in Hockey

Yzerman would certainly go on to play a couple of more years in the NHL, no much longer the offensive superstar he when was, however a complete player and a leader grooming the following generation that Red wings stars choose Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. The would win the invoice Masterson Trophy in 2003, awarded annually to the player who finest exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey, and also the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2006, an award that honors the recipient’s contribution to ice cream hockey in the united States.
He would finish his career with 1755 points in 1514 games (6th in NHL history). Together Yzerman constantly said, however, he didn’t care about his personal stats. The cared about being a good leader, gift a finish player and the team’s success. Top top September 25, 2006, the Red Wings named Yzerman a team vice chairman and alternate governor. He is currently a vital assistant in the team hockey operations. Yzerman is also now offer as general Manager that the Canadian Men’s national Team.On January 2, 2007, the Red wings retired Yzerman’s jersey number, 19. Previous teammate Vladimir Konstantinov attend the ceremony, walking across the ice cream for the very first time without a wheelchair since his last game in the 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs.As an additional honor the captains “C” was added to the edge of his banner to forever commemorate him together “The Captain”.

Yzerman fun Facts

Did friend know?The first two choose in the breeze the year Yzerman to be picked to be Brian Lawton, picked by the Minnesota north Stars (483 games 266 points) and Sylvain Turgeon, choose by the Hartford Whalers (669 gamings 495 points). Think one of two people of those groups would choose that draft back????During the 1988-89 season, Yzerman tape-recorded 155 points (65 goals/90 assists), a complete that just Gretzky and Lemieux have surpassed.One of just 4 players to score 150+ clues in the background of the NHL (Gretzky, Lemieux, Phil Esposito)He is the longest running team captain in NHL history (19 years) and in north American professional sports history.Was called a first-team All-Star, surprisingly, only once in his career, 2000 (I guess that happens once you play at the exact same time as arguably the two biggest players in the history of the game)Had his #19 retired, not just by the Red Wings, but by the Canadian Men’s national TeamThe Nepean Sportsplex called one that its indoor ice cream surfaces the Steve Yzerman Arena in 1997 in his honour. This is the home rink the the CJHL’s Nepean Raiders, the Tier II small “A” team Yzerman play on during the 1980-81 season. The Raiders at this time play in the Yzerman DivisionSteve Yzerman is a member that the Ottawa sports Hall the Fame, Michigan sports Hall of Fame and also the Canada sporting activities Hall of Fame. He will also, there is no a doubt, it is in a member of the Hockey hall of Fame top top eligibility (which of course he was!).

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This post was originally published in February 2009.