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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 - 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


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
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
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