Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman phoned Wayne Gretzky last night asking that he withdraw his name from the roster for the 2006 Olympics. The upcoming Winter Olympics will take place at Torino, Italy. "I talked to Wayne the other night and told him I didn't feel I was playing well enough to hold one of 13 spots," Yzerman told Sportsnet, referring to Team Canada general manager Wayne Gretzky. "I'm very grateful for past opportunities representing my country, but there's too many good players playing too well for me to hold a spot on the roster."
Wings spokesman, John Hahn, confirmed this report that Yzerman will not be playing
for Team Canada. Yzerman helped Canada win a gold medal in 2002 when the Winter Olympics took place in Salt Lake City and became only one of three to win the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal in the same season (teammate Brendan Shanahan was another).
I was very pleased with Yzerman's decision and not surprised whatsoever. I kept reading about people griping about how Yzerman will take a spot of one of the up and coming players, who would have a bigger impact on the team, and that he is being selfish about the whole ordeal. Give Yzerman credit. He is the classiest athlete I know, well have read about, and I'm just happy people around the country (well US and Canada) will finally see that and accept that. Yzerman has always done the best for his team, not himself. And this is just one of many examples backing that statement up. I had expected Yzerman to turn down the offer to play in the 2006 Olympics because he realized that he couldn't play the same and while his leadership is invaluable, he couldn't impact the team in ways other younger players could.
So please, everyone, lighten up on The Captain. He's not going to retire during this season, unless something crazy happens. He's missing a couple of games here and there to give his knee and body a breather not because the coach is benching him. You can't expect a 40 year old player to put up the numbers and time he did when he was 21. Enjoy the rest of the season that we have here with one of the best hockey players of all time.