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Yzerman set to add Hall of Fame to list of feats

Monday, 11.9.2009 / 9:02 AM ET / News
Associated Press
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Yzerman set to add Hall of Fame to list of feats

DETROIT -- Steve Yzerman was nervous before making his NHL debut.

He quickly found out he had nothing to worry about.

In his first game, in 1983 at Winnipeg, Yzerman had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings.

"I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect and my dad was in town," Yzerman said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press before being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. "Then, I remember being comfortable with how I was doing with the pace.

"It was a pleasant surprise."

It was for Detroit, too.

"We considered sending him to Peterborough because we thought he might need another year of junior hockey to get stronger physically," said Red Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano, who drafted Yzerman fourth overall. "It didn't take us long to see this skinny, 18-year-old kid was our best player. That tells you something about him, and our team at the time."

Yzerman finished his rookie season with 87 points and retired with 1,755 in 2006, when no active player had more points. He turned around Detroit's franchise, hoisting three Stanley Cups and helped Canada win men's hockey Olympic gold in 2002 for the first time in 50 years.

Yzerman's career will be celebrated during enshrinement ceremonies in Toronto, where he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with former teammates Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch and New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello.

Yzerman was never the biggest or fastest player on the ice, but Leetch compares him with Wayne Gretzky.

"No one looks at Gretz as the greatest skater, but watch video of him and his ability to create space and hold onto that puck," Leetch said. "I looked at Steve the same way."

Yzerman has few peers as a leader, being a captain for an NHL-record 20 seasons.

He rarely led with his words. He always did with his actions.

"Steve preferred to keep his mouth shut and his ears open as a player, and he still does as a vice president for the organization," Devellano said. "As a player, he didn't need to say how strong his will was because he simply showed it every day."

Yzerman missed the first 66 games of the 2002-03 season following a knee surgery usually reserved for retirees, which involved sawing into the bone below his knee and using a wedge to realign the joint.

Bones in his face were shattered and various other ailments hurt Yzerman during an NHL career that was spent entirely in Detroit.

"No player I ever coached could play with a pain threshold like Steve Yzerman," Hall of Fame coach Scott Bowman has said.

During Detroit's Stanley Cup run in 2002, Yzerman had to use his stick as a prop to get off the ice and still was one of the team's best players at times.

"He was skating on one leg," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom recalled.

Yzerman is glad he hung up his skates when he did, though, unlike some athletes who return after calling it quits or regret retiring.

"Not once have I thought I retired too soon," Yzerman said.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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