The Malik Report
by Paul on 12/10/13 at 05:53 PM ET
He may need a pair of skates too...
Update: The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Yzerman about his participation in the event, and she raises a red flag about Sergei Fedorov's participation...
“This event is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the history of the Detroit Red Wings and I”m happy to be involved,” Yzerman told the Free Press. “I really look forward to seeing a lot of very good friends.”
The games are part of the festivities leading up to the Jan. 1 Winter Classic game between the Wings and Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.
Two alumni games are scheduled, but tentative plans are to have the more recently retired players appear in the second game. The roster list isn’t yet finalized, but Nicklas Lidstrom has signed on, as have Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby and Chris Osgood. Sergei Fedorov has said yes, but the Wings are having trouble reaching him to book a flight from Moscow. Slava Fetisov and Igor Larionov both have committed.
For all the star power that said yes early, Yzerman’s addition shines brightest.
“For what Stevie did for this organization, what he represented, what he did in the community and on the scoreboard, this is great,” Maltby said. “As players, we had a lot of success, a lot of good memories. This is going to be a chance to reminisce about old times. For fans, it’s going to be great to see No. 19 back on the ice.”
“It’s great to have a teammate who meant so much to all of us on and off the ice,” Draper said. “It’s going to be a great day.”
And MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Draper about Yzerman's participation:
“I think it’s great for the organization that he committed to the game, great for the fans of Hockeytown and the State of Michigan,” Draper said. “It’s their chance to get one more look at a player who did so much for the organization on and off the ice. We’re excited to go on the ice with Y-zer one more time.”
Yzerman, the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was non-committal to the event as recently as Nov. 9, when he spoke to media at Joe Louis Arena. He said he has been on the ice only three times since he retired in 2006 and that he doesn’t even own a pair of skates. Yzerman wasn’t available for comment.
Draper didn’t want to speculate on what made Yzerman change his mind, but perhaps seeing how many of his former teammates will be there
“The Russian Five will be there, Brendan Shanahan and all the guys,” Draper said. “Maybe he just wanted to be a part of it, knowing all the guys he had so much success with will be there. I think everyone involved in the game is excited that he is playing in the game. He influenced so many of us on and off the ice. This is special for the Red Wings organization.”
Update #2: And Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner penned a "spirit of the thing" take on Yzerman's participation:
For me, there was always something incomplete about Yzerman’s career in Detroit. The last picture of him in a Red Wings uniform shouldn't be one that currently exists -- the one of him leaving the ice in Edmonton after the Oilers eliminated the Wings in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Perhaps I’m being a bit melodramatic, but Detroit has never really had the opportunity to say thank you to Yzerman the right way.
Sure, he had his number retired, and the Joe was bananas that night. Yzerman graciously acknowledged the crowd as his No. 19 ascended to the rafters, but at that moment, he wasn’t a hockey player anymore, wasn’t in uniform.
Now Yzerman will be right where he belongs -- on the ice as a Red Wing. He'll be standing on the blue line with his teammates, and one by one they'll be introduced.
Yzerman should be introduced last, but knowing him, he'll probably nix that idea. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is that Yzerman will be a Red Wing again, and when his name is announced to the sold-out crowd, the ovation will be thunderous.
The Captain will be home, and his fans will at long last able to say thanks and goodbye.
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