Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Captain

Steve Yzerman. Stevie Y. The Captain. His long journey through the ranks of the NHL came to a close at the top this week, as he was rightly inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. People say it was an incredible Hall of Fame class with Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Brian Leetch too, but there's no one who compares to Yzerman. He's the greatest overall hockey player I've ever seen. I don't care if you show me statistics; I don't care if you show me highlights. He proved his worth to me with 22 years of loyalty to the Detroit Red Wings, with humble interviews and speeches, with unmatched skill in the 1980s and determination in the 1990s. He's a complete player and the game hasn't felt the same without him since his departure in 2006.

Steve Yzerman is the reason I love hockey. He's the reason I love the Detroit Red Wings. He's the reason I still cling to my first Red Wings jersey, even though now it fits me like a t-shirt would. I think my passion for all sports would be severely less developed and undoubtedly less passionate if not for Steve Yzerman. Why? It's his funky name that only hockey fans can seem to pronounce. It's his humility that showed the world that professional athletes don't all have to be stereotypical, money-grubbing buffoons. It's his tremendous skill that he used to make a name for himself then tossed in his back pocket when he realized it wasn't what the team needed to succeed. It's his goal in the 1996 quarters that will never cease to give me shivers.

It's his 19. There can never be another 19. It's his C. There will never be another captain like him. It's the way he picked up the Cup in 1997 and held it for all of Detroit. It's the way he handed it to Vladdie in the wheelchair in '98. It's the way he avoided the spotlight, despite the fact that he was the one everyone wanted to see and talk to. It's the determination to win another Cup. It's the selflessness to take less money so the team could go out and pay for more star players. It's in the grimaces. It's the way he dragged himself off the ice time after time in the 2002 playoffs. It's his gap-toothed smile.

There's no way I can encompass all that Steve Yzerman has meant to me as a Detroit Red Wings fan. He's got the top spot cemented for my favorite player of all-time; everyone else is just fighting for number two. I might wish for every other fan in the country to feel the same way about a certain player they look up to, but that's impossible. There's just no single athlete in the world like Steve Yzerman. There's a reason he's referred to as "God" in so many Red Wings circles: he's on par with one.

I don't know...his legacy has meant so much to me as a hockey fan that it was really special to see him in the spotlight again. Even though he was wearing a black suit and delivering a speech in Toronto, it almost felt like he had pulled on that Wings sweater again and was skating a lap or two around the Joe. I wish he'd never left the game, and I felt that an honorary post about him was necessary. I haven't touched on much Wings content this fall, but hopefully this does the franchise some justice. Stevie sure did.

1 comment:

Yzerman19191919 said...

Hello, I just want to say that what you wrote about Stevie was fantastic and brought tears to my eyes. For real....not kidding. I feel and felt the same way about Yzerman my entire life. Screw stats, this man was and is HOCKEY. God is an understatement, Yzerman is everything good in the sport and this world. as Darren Pang said on January 2nd 2007, Yzerman's Jersey retirement night, "Stevie is the type of guy you want your kids to be like when they grow up." Yzerman has touched my heart and I felt the need to comment on what you had written, because it is all true. I felt like I was reading something I had written. There never was and never will be anybody better than Steve Yzerman.....hes extremely special. Not only for his skills but for who he is and what he represented. When people ask me at work why im so obsessed with Yzerman, or why is he my favorite?, i simply say "because i have never seen anyone with more heart than him." i could go on and on about Stevie and his greatness.....sorry. Great writing once again my friend.