I'm writing this blog entry, not for the fact this particular player is still playing, or that it has anything to do with the NHL season at hand. I'm writing this to show how the fate of one draft pick changed the make-up, work ethic and face of a franchise that was the laughing stock of the NHL. Yes there was Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers, Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby and then there was Steve Yzerman.
"The Captain" is the leader of your team. He leads by example. He has the willingness to sacrifice is body for the good of the team. He has the drive to win and expects nothing less from his teammates. He has the ability to communicate, whether it's to fire up his team or calm them in the face of adversity. He will never ask his team to do something he wouldn't. Fans know him as Steve Yzerman, Stevie Y. Players and teammates may refer to him as "The Captain". But one thing everyone can agree with, he was a Class Act on and off the ice. Loved by many, hated by none.
The top five 1983 draft picks are as follows:(1) Brian Lawton-Minnesota (2) Sylvain Turgeon-Hartford (3) Pat LaFontaine-NY Islanders (4) Steve Yzerman-Detroit (5) Tom Barasso-Buffalo.
NHL draft picks are never a guarantee , there have been many first round busts not to mention #1 picks that never seemed to have panned out, no need to mention any names here, but you guys know who's on that list. Nevertheless for ever bust there's a diamond in the rough and the Red Wings seem to find them, Pavel Datsyuk 6th round #171 comes to mind. Even though (Steve) Yzerman wasn't really on the Red Wings radar, he was taken 4th overall. The Red Wings and Jim Devellano at the time wanted American born Pat LaFontaine, but when the NY Islanders selected him #3, the Wings took the Peterborough Pete. Not knocking LaFontaine who's career was cut short due to concussions, I'm glad the Wings took Yzerman. The History book on the Wings would've been written different.
His rookie season Yzerman racked up (39) goals (48) assists (87) points finishing second in Calder Trophy voting. A prolific goal scorer in his early years, with his best point output coming in the 88-89 season. Stevie Y lite the lamp with (65) goals and (90) helpers for (155) points. That would win the scoring title in any year, but with (Mario) Lemieux and (Wayne) Gretzky on the ice (199) (168) Stevie finished 3rd respectively. At the time being awarded the Captaincy at the young age of 21, it was a tall order to lead a team for such a young man. He took the reins of the Wings and lead them to their first Stanley Cup in fifty five years in 1996-97. That first cup win didn't come without playoff heart ache. When Scotty Bowman took the coaching duties in 93-94, he changed Yzerman's game to more of a two way player, defense first then offense. Up to that point Yzerman had a +/- rating of +39. This transformation needed to happen in order to win. Those years were tough for Yzerman with trade rumors and everything else that goes into leading an NHL team. Playing on the power-play and killing penalties, Yzerman became a 2way dynamo, the best in the game. From 93' when Scotty took over till Yzerman retired +/- +126, remarkable. The heart and determination one man can show came out in the 2002 season when he won a Gold Medal for Canada at the Olympics, then won his 3rd Stanley Cup on one leg. Personal accolades and trophy's never mattered, it was all about the team.
Some players achieve greatness on their god given talent, others achieve that same greatness through hard work, determination and heart. That was the Steve Yzerman way.
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