'Humble' Yzerman enshrined in Ottawa hall
Saturday, 01.12.2008 / 7:52 PM ET / Features
By Aedan Helmer
|Steve Yzerman poses for a photo Friday night at Scotiabank Place before being inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. (Tony Caldwell, Sun Media)|
Now hometown hero Steve Yzerman has another feather to add to an already crowded cap.
Stevie Y was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Friday evening, instantly becoming the most prestigious name to earn that distinction.
Freestyle skiing pioneer Mike Nemesvary and lifelong volunteer Bob Rathwell, in the builder's category, were enshrined alongside Yzerman as the Class of 2007.
But it was Yzerman who stood at the head of the class, a media horde swarming the hockey legend as he emerged on the Scotiabank Place concourse.
But even among the flashbulbs, handshakes and autograph hounds, Yzerman retained his trademark humility and grace.
"He must have thanked us 10 times," said Senators President and CEO Roy Mlakar. "He's a very humble guy. We're just proud to have Steve be from our city. He epitomizes what it means to be from Ottawa."
Yzerman, though he's lived in Detroit since he was drafted by the Red Wings as an 18-year-old in 1983, still considers Ottawa his hometown.
"I live in Detroit, my three daughters were born there, but Ottawa is my hometown," said Yzerman. "I was born in B.C., but my parents live here, my wife's parents live here."
Born in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Yzerman moved to Ottawa in 1975 as a 9-year-old, playing his way through the Nepean minor league system. Yzerman still fondly remembers his days as a star center with the 1980-81 Nepean Raiders.
"It was one of the most enjoyable seasons I've ever had in hockey," said Yzerman.
Yzerman credited his former Raiders coach Mike Goddard for instilling a sense of fun in the 15-year-old.
"I was fortunate," he said. "I had excellent coaching and played on some really strong teams all the way up."
It's been 25 years since Yzerman left Ottawa to embark on one of the most illustrious careers in the history of the sport. He retired in 2006 ranked sixth on the league's all-time scoring list, spending his entire career with the Red Wings.
Now a member of the Ottawa sports shrine, Yzerman will have similar honors bestowed upon him in B.C and in Michigan. He is widely considered a shoo-in for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2009.
Yzerman takes all the accolades in stride.
"I always tried to play hard, compete hard, and tried to set a good example as far as having a good work ethic," he said. "I think as I got older and older, winning just became more and more important. Personal statistics and individual goals just take a back seat, because we're trying to win something here."