My Tribute to Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman is undeniably, and always will be, one of the most beloved Detroit Red Wings players ever. To so many of us, he is the greatest player of all time. Yes, even better than Gretzky. Some people will never understand why or how we can make that comparison, but they didn’t have the opportunity to see him play game after game, injury after injury. Gretzky on the other hand was featured every night on ESPN highlights. So, I know I will not do him justice in this article, but I feel the need to try and explain why so many of us feel that he was the best player to ever play the game and why he will always have a special place in our heart, no matter where he is. (I also mean no disrespect to Wayne Gretzky in this. He is after all “The Great One.”)

How He Became A Wing:

At the 1983 draft, the Red Wings were going to pursue Pat Lafontaine instead of Stevie Y. They had the fourth overall pick in the draft and the New York Islanders had the third. The Isles took Lafontaine and so Jim Devellano, who was our general manager at the time, decided to take a chance on the 18 year old from Cranbook, B.C.

Leadership:

On October 7th, 1986 at the age of 21, Stevie Y was named the Captain of the Detroit Red Wings. On that day, he became the youngest Captain in franchise history. Next season, he led the wings to their first division title in 23 years. Throughout his career, he proved why he was the right person to don the “C.”  His teammates always considered his leadership cool, calm, and collected. He always seemed to be uncomfortable when people recognized and praised his leadership abilities and talent. Stevie chose to lead by example instead of giving hour long locker room speeches. In my opinion, that is part of the reason he was such a fantastic leader. Stevie holds the NHL record (20 years) as the longest serving captain of a team in the league.

Style of play:

Scotty Bowman became the Red Wings coach in 1993. He wanted Stevie to play more of a defensive style of game. At first Stevie resisted, but then he “tried it out” and became a better defender and eventually evolved into one of, if not, the best two way player ever in the game. Some say that Datsyuk wouldn’t be the player he is today if it wasn’t for watching and learning from Stevie Y’s style of play.

Perseverance:

This is the most memorable part of Stevie Y for myself. Throughout the 2001-02 season, he was having many health problems, specifically with his knees. When it came around to playoff time, he could barely skate, but he did.  I remember Brendan Shanahan saying that Stevie would come up to him during the playoffs and explain what he could and couldn’t do. “But then, you realized when you watched him, there wasn’t a lot that he couldn’t do,” Shanny said. And there really wasn’t. He had so much drive and determination that nothing could really stop him. The next season, he was forced to miss over 60 games after undergoing a knee realignment surgery.

Off Ice:

Stevie was always a leader and role model in the community. He supported many charities and was influential in the Christmas trip to the Detroit Children’s Hospital. There are so many articles about Stevie’s charity works. More than half of them make me want to cry, and some of them in fact do. I’ve listed one of the articles that was most touching.

Braxton

Stevie also would always take time for fans after practice/training camp/whatever the occasion. I have never personally been to the Red Wings training camps, but I know many people that have and their stories are always the same. Stevie would come outside and start his way at one end of the line and work his way to the other until every fan had their autograph and picture.

Leaving Detroit:

This is a quote from the Ilitch family reguarding Stevie’s departure from the Red Wings’ organization to the Lightning’s organization. “This is not easy. We’re having a difficult time, frankly, because Stevie’s been with us from the start and we consider him part of our family. We drafted him as a young and shy 18-year-old – just a year after we bought the team – and he has been part of it all: the ups and downs, highs and lows, the Cups, the celebrations, really everything Red Wings over the last 27 years. We watched him grow and develop over the years into a Hall of Fame player, a wonderful husband and father and now, a very capable executive. We appreciate all Stevie has done for us, our organization and this community, and we wish him all the best. Stevie Y will always be a Red Wing and he’ll always be in our hearts.”* It was hard on any true Red Wings fan, but I think we all agree that Stevie deserved that opportunity. And he proved that. The previous season the Lightning finished 25th in the league and had not made a playoff appearance since 2007. Then Stevie takes control, makes a few adjustments including acquiring veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson, and they finish eighth in the league and make it to the Eastern Conference finals.  He was up for the General Manager of the Year award for his spectacular “rookie season”, but lost to Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks.

Awards:

  • 1989- Lester B. Pearson Award
  • 1998- Conn Smythe Trophy
  • 2000- Frank J. Selke Trophy
  • 2002- Men’s Ice Hockey Olympic Gold Medal
  • 2003- Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
  • 2006- Lester Patrick Trophy
  • 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008 Stanley Cup Champion
  • Also received four different medals through the Canada Cup and World Championships.

*Notable Honors/Statistics:

  • 10 All-star games
  • Sixth in NHL history in points, eighth in goals and seventh in assists
  • First in Red Wings history in assists; second in points and goals; third in games played; second all-time in seasons and games played with only one NHL franchise
  • Number (19) retired with Detroit Red Wings – 2007
  • Number (19) retired with Canadian Men’s National Team – 2005 (Was unretired by Stevie himself and gave to Joe Thornton.)
  • Longest-serving captain for a team in league history (1,303 games)
  • Was Ranked #6 in The Hockey News The Top 60 Since 1967 – The Best Players of the Post Expansion Era
  • Has been inducted into Four Hall’s of Fame (Ottawa Sports HOF 2008, Michigan Sports HOF 2008, Canada’s Sports HOF 2008, Hockey HOF 2009)

Memorable Moments Through Pictures:

Closing Thoughts:

We now say that Nicklas Lidstrom is the “perfect human” but if you look back on Stevie’s career, he truly was. He was a model captain, player and friend. I remember reading in Bob Probert’s book Tough Guy, that when Probie was playing with the wings and going through all his “troubles”, he would always look forward to talking with Stevie. He knew that Stevie would never look down on or degrade him, like so many did. That was just the kind of guy Stevie was and always will be.

Ohh and when Holland retires, he will be back. (Just saying.)

*Stats/Honors via Stevie’s Wikipedia, Quote via Detroit Red Wings

Email: redwingsandov8@yahoo.com Twitter: @TigerbloodTuzzi Tumblr: TigerbloodTuzzi.tumblr.com

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Todd Bertuzzi Vs. Matt Cooke

While I realize that me writing this may not change any opinions, I just have to put it out there. I love Todd Bertuzzi. I despise Matt Cooke. But, let’s give a fair comparison.

Bertuzzi:

This is the original hit and it also shows what Bertuzzi was retaliating for. I understand that it was a sucker punch and he in no way ever should of done it.

And here is Bertuzzi’s apolgy…

Cooke:

(You might want to mute your computer. Some of these are the Pittsburgh feed.)

And now for the one that really pisses me off more than anything…

And of course Matt Cooke would apologize for that like Bertuzzi did, right? Nope. He sounds like such a coward during this. “Ohh their guy hit me the shift before like that and I got up.” With that statement, I think it proves that he knew what the hell he was doing. He was going for retaliation. (And the hit that Cooke received that game was not dirty.)

And Don Cherry has some excellent points. I am not a Crosby fan at all, but in this case, I give him a little credit. He’s clearly ashamed of his teammate as Grapes points out.

And just to make me smile…

You can say whatever you want about Matt Cooke, but frankly I don’t care if he donates to charity, is a good dad (which judging by the 24-7 series, he isn’t) or any other lame excuse Pens fans come up with. Those things have nothing to do with his playing career. He continues to do douchebag thing after douchebag thing. If he comes back next season and doesn’t do any of these things anymore, I will stop with all the hate that I give him. I will still hate him, but I won’t do it publicly. But, I think I’ve proved my point. Bertuzzi had a one time incident and had/has remorse. He continues to regret what he did and he still pays for it every time he goes to Colorado and most of Canada. I have seen no remorse out of Matt Cooke except a piss poor interview where he said “I need to change my ways.”

(Also, my apologizes if any of Cooke’s dirty hits were not included. There are just so many of them. And, in case any of you were wondering why I didn’t put in the Bertuzzi “armpit hit” from the 2010-2011 season, that is because when the coach of the receiving team a.k.a. Joel Quennville, says that he is “okay without a suspension on Bertuzzi”, I in no way can consider it a dirty hit.)

As always, feel free to talk crap to me via email (redwingsandov8@yahoo.com), twitter (@tigerbloodtuzzi) or tumblr (tigerbloodtuzzi.tumblr.com)