This won't be a gushing piece about how Steve Yzerman is "beyond legendary" with countless superlatives describing his career. I've decided to instead think about my best memories of him and share a few pictures from throughout his career. In no particular order, other than the order in which I recalled them throughout the night. I've decided to make the memories a little off the beaten path so you don't just get a bunch of Cup winning poses. I will add memories in the next few days if I can think of any more.
October 9, 2003
After having osteotomy surgery for knee realignment during the summer of 2002, Yzerman only played 16 games in the 2002-03 season. The date was opening night at the Joe, and Steve Yzerman scored with 1.7 seconds left to give the Wings a 3-2 win over the LA Kings. I remember watching that night thinking there was no way the Wings could lose the game, that it was opening night and Yzerman was back at home ready to begin a full season. It was an amazing way to open the season at home and really gave fans a lift, and a feeling that Yzerman was back in great form.
October 30, 2003
The officiating on this night was disgusting, with Mike Leggo and Tim Peel in charge. The Wings lost 5-3 to the Nashville Predators. A holding call on Nicklas Lidstrom led to Steve Yzerman lashing out at Leggo and getting thrown out of the game. I remember him exiting through the zamboni tunnel and throwing one of his glove's onto the ice in protest. It stuck out in my mind because it was a rare show of frustration for a usually quiet and polite captain.
November 13, 1998
The Wings lost to the Dallas Stars 5-1, and this game introduced me to Dan Keczmer, an obscure player I'll never forget. The Mt Clemens, MI native slammed Yzerman from behind into the boards. This led to Yzerman throwing off his gloves and taking a swing at Keczmer. Darren McCarty was nearby and finished off the fight with Keczmer. This is the only time I can remember seeing Yzerman fight, and has caused me to remember the nobody NHL player that is Dan Keczmer. Side note: Yzerman also fought Maguire in 1987, Wings versus Buffalo. Probert came after Maguire shortly after for revenge after the Captain took a beating.
May 16, 1996
It was Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals, and the game was 0-0 headed into the second overtime. It took just 75 seconds into the second overtime for Steve Yzerman to beat St Louis goaltender Jon Casey over the right shoulder, with a 60-foot slap shot from near the blue line
. Yzerman had picked up a Wayne Gretzky turnover near center ice before taking his famous shot. I was 10 years old , and had stayed up late on that Thursday school-night to watch the Wings. Even though the Wings lost to the Avs in the Conference Finals (The Hit occuring on May 30, 1996), Yzerman's goal and celebration, jumping along the boards before being mobbed by his teammates, will always stick with me. In fact, beyond the Cup wins, this is my favorite Red Wing memory.
While it's not really a memory I have, being only 1 year old at the time, I thought this was a really neat picture showing Jacques Demers awarding Steve Yzerman with the "C," succeeding Danny Gare. It might've even happened in his Riverfront apartment, where he is seen below.
He shared an apartment with Lane Lambert in 1984, and they are seen making hot dogs and macaroni & cheese for lunch above.
May 29, 2002
It was Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in Denver, and the Wings were down 3-2 in the series. At 19:21 of the first period, Brendan Shanahan scored the game-winning goal of the 2-0 victory, setting the stage for the Wings' 7-0 Game 7 shredding of Roy. The goal was the famous "Statue of Liberty" goal
, in which Patrick Roy raised his glove after making a point-blank save on Yzerman. He didn't have control of the puck though, and Shanahan jumped on the puck as it laid in the crease.
June 13, 2002
The Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and captured their third Cup in six years. It was a special night, as Steve Yzerman handed the Cup to Scotty Bowman, who had earlier whispered in Yzerman's ear that he was retiring. It was Bowman's 9th Cup, breaking the tie with Toe Blake. It was also a special Cup win in that Yzerman willed his way through the playoffs with knee problems, often using his stick as a crutch to get off the ice after receiving crushing checks.
Even though Nicklas Lidstrom won the Conn Smythe after the Wings won the Cup in 2002, Yzerman's gutsy effort and leadership in playing through obvious pain was a big reason for the Wings Cup win.
January 8, 2001
Steve Yzerman scored the game winning goal after deiking Avs goalie Patrick Roy out of his jockstrap in the Wings' 4-3 win. The goal came 68 seconds into OT, when Yzerman stole a Ray Bourque clearing attempt. The Avs had not lost in 25 straight regular-season overtime games, and Yzerman had 2 goals and 1 assist on the night. It was one of the Captain's best goals that I can remember.
*Thanks to the Free Press and Detroit News for inspiring galleries of Steve Yzerman's career.