Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Detroit Red Wings DetroitRedWings.com presented by AT&T
Stay Connected to the Detroit Red Wings
Email Updates App Text/SMS Updates Twitter Facebook Red Wings TV RSS Feeds
 

Yzerman left everything on the ice

Thursday, 11.05.2009 / 1:02 PM / Features
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer
X
Share with your Friends


Yzerman left everything on the ice
When Steve Yzerman retired from the NHL, the Hall of Fame center said his body just couldn\'t take it anymore. But even in his last game, he was one of the Wings\' best players.
Ken Holland knew why Steve Yzerman finally retired July 3, 2006. His body was breaking down and he couldn't physically withstand another season.

Yzerman, in fact, said there was no way he could have trained hard enough to compete in 2006-07.

"I don't feel I had anything left physically," Yzerman said.

Holland, the Red Wings' GM, also remembers that in Yzerman's final game, Game 6 of the 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals in Edmonton, the captain still was one of Detroit's best players.

Yzerman had an assist and three shots on goal in just over 13 minutes in the Red Wings' 4-3 loss at Rexall Place.

"The last game he ever played, he was an important player for us," Holland told NHL.com. "Typical Steve. I'm not sure if it was ribs or what, but he had some injury the morning of Game 6 and he didn't skate. We weren't sure if he was going to play. He came to the rink, they gave him a painkiller and I think he might have been our best forward."

Nicklas Lidstrom, who took over as Red Wings' captain following Yzerman's retirement, remembers one particular play in that game that showed Yzerman's will, determination and skill.

"I remember some of the plays he made, and one in particular when he was going around (Chris) Pronger, taking Pronger wide and going around him," Lidstrom told NHL.com. "Pronger looks like he's huge compared to Stevie, but even though Stevie was hurt and banged up, the determination really showed. He was just going to go around that D and take the puck to the net and that's what he did. I had seen him do that numerous times, but in this game, his last game, I saw that determination again.

"I thought he was one of our best players in that game. He played 13 minutes, but the shifts that he had, you could really tell he wanted to play a strong game."

When the final buzzer sounded, Yzerman knew in his heart he was done. He said his desire to play remained, but his body wouldn't let him.

"What it came down to is: Could I contribute enough to this team to help win the Cup?" Yzerman said. "As much as I wanted to continue playing, I knew I couldn't keep up at this pace anymore. It became a real struggle for me to try to do the things. Particularly my last year, I had a heck of a time to stay healthy to get in the lineup."

It really was no surprise.

Not only was Yzerman already on the wrong side of 40, he had a rough few seasons in terms of injuries, including a few stops on the surgical table.

Following the Wings' Cup run in 2002, Yzerman had a radical knee realignment surgery, known as an osteotomy, a procedure normally reserved for the elderly. He missed 66 games in 2002-03, but came back to play the final 16.  He appeared in 75 games in 2003-04.

He broke his orbital bone and scratched his cornea after getting hit in the face by a deflected slap shot early in the 2004 playoffs. He didn't play again that postseason.

After signing a one-year contract following the work stoppage, Yzerman managed to stay healthy for only 61 games in 2005-06 and only four of six playoff games. He finished with 34 points in the regular season and 4 points against the Oilers in the playoffs, but that was it.

He retired with 692 goals and 1,063 assists for 1,755 points in 1,514 regular-season games. He had another 70 goals and 115 assists for 185 points in 196 postseason games.

"Could he have played more?" Holland asked rhetorically. "I guess he could have played more, but Steve has high standards over 82 games and ultimately his body told him no more."





SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

DetroitRedWings.com is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and DetroitRedWings.com are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2013. All Rights Reserved.

 
Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map