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Abel to Yzerman

Hey 19…Big Night In Hockeytown

With Steve Yzerman it was never a matter of if, but when.

Not if he’d win a Cup, but when would it finally happen…and how many.

Not if he’d come back from whatever injury was ailing him, but when.

Obviously not if he’d retire, but under what conditions and when.  After an eye injury in Calgary, after a lockout, after another devastating early-round loss, after introspection, or just after he’d decided the body couldn’t go another year.

And most certainly not if 19 would head to the JLA rafters, but when.  Has there ever been a more natural ceremony in Detroit than the one that will occur this evening?  When did the certainty first start to seep in, that Yzerman would be the legend he became? 

Was it the OT goal, the hyperbaric chamber, the grimaces in ‘02, the gap-toothed celebration in ‘97, the handoff to Vladdie in ‘98?

My favorite moment?  Yzerman huffing up the right wing last year in a road loss against Carolina

Five minutes left in the first and the Wings were getting blown out.  Listless, three goals down and essentially done. Yzerman picks up the puck on the right side in his own zone and rides his captaincy downhill.  The ice tilting, picking up speed, eluding various Canes then making a sharp left at the faceoff dot, willing himself across the crease, flicking the puck past Gerber, airborne, back on his skates, a fist pump then a glare at the bench. His bench.

It’s easy to point to playoff wins, celebrations to the tune of badly outdated music, dramatic moments, recounts of a speech that we’ll probably never know the true meaning of, wars with Denver, wars with St. Louis and even Phoenix, losses to San Jose, New Jersey, Calgary.  Broken feet and wrecked knees.

But, to me, the true Yzerman greatness is best reflected in a burst up the wing, in an 0-3 game, in the middle of January, followed by a glare to his teammates that said, “you don’t lie down for anyone with that jersey on.”

The greatest Captain ever.  Any sport.  Any era.

Back to regular posting tomorrow morning.

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com