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Five questions with Yzerman

Tuesday, 10.9.2012 / 12:00 AM ET / Features
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Five questions with Yzerman
Steve Yzerman won four Stanley Cup rings - three as a player, one as Red Wings' VP - during his illustrious career in Detroit. (Photo by Getty Images)

When Steve Yzerman decided to trade in his stick and skates for a briefcase and dress shoes, he did so with an eye on consistently feeding the competitive spirit that drove him to play 22 Hall of Fame seasons for the Red Wings.

Six years later, Yzerman has won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Red Wings' front office, guided Canada to an Olympic gold medal in Canada as the team's executive director -- and now he's in the process of rebuilding the brand of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Some could argue Yzerman is one more Stanley Cup championship away from having a Hall of Fame post-playing career.

Yzerman, 47, gave insight into why he chose to be in management and some of the responsibilities he faces in his day-to-day life.

Here are Five Questions with … Steve Yzerman:

Why did you want to turn to management when you retired rather than, say, coaching or scouting or just maybe a generally easier way of living than the pressure and stress you're under now as a GM?

"I always wanted to stay in the game; it's what I enjoy most. I've been intrigued by both coaching and management, but as I went through my career the idea of building your own organization, putting together your own staff was more appealing to me than coaching. I believe being the general manager is an incredible responsibility and a great challenge. I always thought that way, which is why I leaned more in that direction. Coaching is a tough and exciting job, and I had an interest, but when I retired I really leaned toward management because it was more interesting. I like the idea of building a team, finding players."

People see you and they see the Red Wings, so how do you separate that now because you are no longer associated with the Wings?

"It doesn't come into play doing my job. I was in the (Detroit) organization for a long time, and I will always be associated -- or at least I hope I'll always be associated with -- the organization even though I don't work for them at this time. I learned so much being a player and a part of that group, and a lot of it molded me and my ideas in the game as well. I accepted a position in Tampa and I really enjoy what I'm doing. I love being a part of this organization, the people I work with and work for. You can't look back, and at the same time you can't live in the past."

More pressure: Playing for Team Canada or managing Team Canada?

"I didn't play for Canada in Canada, so that is a little bit different. I've always felt pressure is what you put upon yourself, and I felt equally responsible as a player and as a manager. I guess I enjoyed both of them. It was a great experience in Vancouver, but it was something I never experienced before. As a player, I experienced a lot of things. So I would probably say, if I had to pick one, being the manager of that team, whether it's true or not, you feel a huge amount of responsibility. There were sleepless nights, but as a player there are nights where you don't sleep at all too. It could be after some games when they've gone really well and you're just too excited, and after some games when they haven't gone well and you're upset. As a player I had those a little in the Olympics, but more as the manager."

When scouting, what does Steve Yzerman look for in a center?

"You have to know there are different types of centermen, so in scouting you've got to learn to appreciate different types of players. A Stanley Cup team doesn't have four centermen that play the same way, so you try to find out what type of player they are -- if they're defensive-minded or a playmaker. But in centermen for the most part, you want guys with good hockey sense all over the ice because they're all over the place. It's a little different than playing wing. I like to think your prototypical center is responsible in both ends of the rink, has good vision, and can both produce on offense and play well on defense."

As a GM you have some influence, so I have to ask: Is there one rule or interpretation you would like to see changed today?

"Boarding. I think we put an emphasis on boarding and kind of rewrote the rule last year, and to be perfectly honest I don't think it worked out well at all. Now every time a guy gets hit in the boards he throws himself in the boards and lays there until he sees if the referee puts his hands up or not. Players with the puck have some responsibility to protect themselves and not put themselves in vulnerable positions. That's the one rule I'd like to see us continue to spend time on."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80