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Abel to Yzerman

Yzerman Rescues Wings Again

It wasn’t his most famous achievement as a Wing.  All his teeth were in and Jon Casey wasn’t involved.  It didn’t precede a failed Statue of Liberty and this time his accomplishment was painless.

In other words, Steve Yzerman earned his money as a hockey exec yesterday.  Was his influence as significant as the mainstreamers are claiming regarding keeping Datsyuk in the fold?  Probably not.  But when the Wings needed a credible voice to convince us that this deal is a good one, they trotted out The Captain.  And he scored again.

Helene St. James/Detroit Free Press

“We’re going to have to go out on the market, and we’re probably going to spend more money on a player that we don’t like as much as Pavel. With these unrestricted free agents coming at a younger age, you really have to be certain and really know your player, and if you believe in him, tie him up. We believe in Pavel.”

It worked on me, and you guys know I was more than a little skeptical of signing a playoff failure to a huge contract.  I felt that Holland should have waited.  Datsyuk puts up 20 postseason points? Pay him.  Disappears again, charley horse or not, take a hard line.

But, as usual, Yzerman swayed me.  Here’s the thing.  The guy has never been a talker.  We know that.  We’ve hung on every word he says for more than twenty years because when he’s spoken, it’s always been for a reason and it’s always carried weight.

The Wings aren’t dumb.  Bringing Yzerman to the management team had to happen when it did.  Ilitch and Holland let Michigan know that they respected what he’d done for the team, and they realized something else, maybe even as early as last summer.  There would be a time, maybe a few times, when decisions were going to be made and met with raised eyebrows from the paying fans.  And who would you rather have explaining those moves?  Jimmy D?  Ken Holland?  Trusted, yes.  But, man, you trot The Captain out there?  Eyebrows down. Credibility intact.  Great signing. Great deal.  Thank god Pavel’s still a Wing.

And the whole Wing PR machine was involved in this one.  Leaks earlier in the week to Khan(!), Chelios on the radio, even Brett Hull helped out.  And the Free Press?  Man, the Ilitch check’s in the mail.  Did you guys see the headline this morning?  “PAYDAY! Ilitch: Yzerman repeatedly said, ‘We’ve got to sign him’ “

Skeptics converted.  Just like that.

But more than PR, more than organizational alibis and credibility, let’s get down to business.  Pavel Datsyuk has never appeared to be the most confident guy in public.  All Star games where he was so frightened he wouldn’t shoot and could barely stay up on two skates.  Interviews that were painful to watch.  Security in the shadows of Zetterberg, Yzerman, Hull. 

So, as much as Steve Yzerman convinced us yesterday that 47 million is a safe investment in Datsyuk?  It was just as much about convincing Datsyuk that the team is his to co-lead.  This statement yesterday? 

Ilitch said Yzerman repeatedly said “we’ve got to sign him, we’ve got to sign him.”

Remember that.  It wasn’t subtle and it wasn’t unintentional. 

Payday for Pavel.  Assist to Yzerman.



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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