End of an era?July 3, 2006
Sportsnet.ca – After 22 seasons, Detroit Red Wings’ captain Steve Yzerman is calling it a career, Sportsnet has learned.
The Red Wings have called a press conference for 1 pm ET on Monday where the announcement is expected to be made official.
(Via Abel to Yzerman)
I had planned to review the free agency rush of the weekend in this post, but I think that can wait a little while. Despite the fact that he plays for a team I’ve grown to loathe (what with the regional “rivalry” and all), Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman has always been one of my favorite hockey players. Assuming the article is correct, today will be a bittersweet day for hockey fans across the spectrum. While it was uplifting to see Stevie Y return from his knee problems this year, it will be hard to watch one of the great leaders in sports turn his back from the spotlight of playing and walk down the tunnel toward the rest of his life.
With 692 goals and 1,063 assists in 1,514 regular season games, Yzerman will hang up his skates holding the sixth best scoring output in NHL history. But more important than scoring records is his skill as a leader. I have no doubt that Red Wing fans will be able to get more in-depth in describing what their captain meant to the team, the city, and the fans; but it’s not hard for an outsider to see the impact that Yzerman had on the sport as a whole. As a sports fan nearing my 30’s, I’ve grown up seeing sports change from games to businesses. Despite this fact, I’ve always been more interested in players who are leaders than those who are good businessmen or showmen.
In Major League Baseball, I had to look no farther than the Cincinnati Reds to find an example of a great leader in Barry Larkin. In the National Football League, Brett Favre has been a source of inspiration for his team by playing remarkably well through thick and thin. The National Hockey League has Steve Yzerman.
All of these players have had careers in which they outperformed their peers for many years, but it’s safe to assume that none of the players will be remembered best for their statistical accomplishments. Players like this never go out of style, but are always in extremely short supply as there may only be a handful in each sport at any given time. As a fan, I have to be aware of the fact that just because Yzerman (and the other aforementioned greats) is on his way out does mean that someone else will not be there to rise to the challenge. On the other side of that coin, it is tough for anyone when the true sports heroes of their formative years hang up their equipment for the last time. Things are never as good as they were “back in my day”.
Hockey fans, say goodbye to the good old days.
EOB congratulates Steve Yzerman on a fantastic career, and for being an individual worthy of the admiration of man and child alike. Best of luck.