Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stevie Y bids adieu

I hadn't commented earlier on Steve Yzerman's retirement announcement yesterday, because, frankly, I couldn't think of anything to say. His 61 games this past season were awfully quiet, and given the lockout and his declining production in recent years, it's almost as if Stevie Y has been on an extended retirement swing since Scotty Bowman's retirement in 2002.

Now, I don't mean any disrespect to Yzerman by saying that: While I've never at any point found myself rooting for the Detroit Red Wings, I am a fan of the kid from the Kootenays. His numbers speak to his accomplishments, and the fact he's recorded the third-best single-season point total (155) behind Gretzky and Lemieux is impressive on its own. His time with the Canadian national team has also endeared him to hockey fans in his birth country.

Yzerman's one of the few players who's been an NHL star nearly my entire life, and certainly ever since I've been following the game closely. He's an icon in the game, and a great representative of what hockey is — or at least what it should be. Looking at the ridiculous player movement the past few seasons, you wonder if another Yzerman will ever grace this league.

Is it even possible for this league to have a player named captain at 21 and play his entire 1,514-game career with the team that drafted him?

For that alone, it's the end of an era.

So long, Stevie Y.



At 1:25 a.m., July 04, 2006, Blogger deepfriedgold said...

Man, no matter how much I hated the Wings, I loved Stevie Y. Too bad his announcement came on the same day as the Pronger trade because he deserves parades on every street of NHL city.

Class act all along and a career to be proud of. All the best, Steve.

At 9:44 a.m., July 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just an excerpt of my reaction to Yzerman's retirement. You can read the whole post on my blog: http://behindthejersey.blogspot.com/2006/07/steve-yzerman-heart-of-champion.html

Cancer survivors look to cyclist Lance Armstrong for inspiration. As someone who has spent years struggling with chronic knee pain, Steve Yzerman has become my daily source of inspiration. While I certainly never had a city, a team, and millions of fans waiting for my return from knee surgery, I’ve experienced the agony of rehabilitation and the frustration of a bothersome knee. The grimaces made by his face are prevalent in every person suffering from chronic pain. Yzerman’s courage and perseverance helped me do the same while recovering from any of my seven knee operations.

Whenever I am struggling to make it up the stairs, I think of Yzerman when, in 2002, he had an incredibly hard time climbing the steps of the airplane. I always thought that if Yzerman could be in that much pain and still lead the team in playoff points, then I can make it through the day, through my therapy, and live a relatively normal life. I just hate that Yzerman’s knee is the number one reason for hanging up his skates.

When I hear the name Steve Yzerman, I think of words like courage, respect, honor, discipline, dedication, leader, champion, passion, perseverance, humility, and athlete. The name Steve Yzerman is the definition of a champion.

I can’t begin to imagine the Detroit Red Wings without No. 19. Yzerman became captain right before I was born so I really don’t know hockey without Stevie Y. Each time Yzerman held that shiny silver Stanley Cup over his head, you couldn’t help but smile seeing one of the greatest hockey players celebrate his team’s hard work. I have fond memories of each victory, but I found it most rewarding to see Yzerman lift the Cup for his third and final time after he defeated his opponents with one leg.

At 3:18 p.m., July 04, 2006, Anonymous vadim sharifijanov said...

i don't know how much longer he intends to play, but joe sakic was named co-captain of the nords at an age not much older than when yzerman was named captain of the wings.

At 4:49 p.m., July 04, 2006, Blogger Skraut said...

Growing up in North Central Ohio, and not having a team to call our own (some say we still don't have a "Real" team) I still remember spending winter evenings hoping the atmosphere was right so that we could get WJR and listen to Wings games. I always had a ton of respect which grew every time I heard him talk in a pre or post game interview. For the longest time there never was anything good to say about the team, yet Steve always found something good about a player to mention.

On a personal note, after years working camera for sports in Cleveland, Toledo, and Columbus (pre Jackets) I finally got an opportunity to go to the Joe and work as a grip for a Wings game. I'll never forget walking through those halls, pushing a cart with my camera and lens. Suddenly from an ajacent hall Steve appears, looks at me, and says "Let me get that for you" and holds the door for me to get through. In all my years I had met many athletes behind the scenes, from Jordan to Montana. None had ever even considered doing, what to Yzerman seemed a natural thing.

Farewell Steve. In an era of crazy trades, the CBA, and Free Agency, you proved the value of loyalty.


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