Steve Yzerman, St-Louis, Drake named to Order of Hockey in Canada
Trio will be honoured in June at ceremony in Vancouver
Steve Yzerman can add another honour to his impressive resume.
The former Detroit Red Wings captain was named to the Order of Hockey in Canada on Wednesday along with former women's national team captain France St-Louis and legendary university coach Clare Drake.
Yzerman, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, won three Stanley Cups during his 22-year playing career.
Now the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yzerman won gold with Canada as a player at the 2002 Olympics and served as the executive director of the gold-medal winning men's team at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
The 48-year-old has the same post heading into next month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"It was an extremely pleasant surprise for me and really a thrill," Yzerman said during a conference call with all three recipients. "I've loved being a part of Hockey Canada as a player and (in) management throughout my career in the game."
The Ottawa native played five times for Canada at the world championships and was part of the country's bronze medal-winning team at the 1983 world juniors. As a manager, he has also led Canada to three world championship medals — two gold and one silver.
Yzerman sits sixth all-time in NHL scoring with 1,755 points, ninth in goals (692) and seventh in assists (1,063).
"Steve Yzerman's career was unbelievable," said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, who was on hand to make the announcement. "One of the best to ever play the game."
Praise from Sather
Yzerman was nominated for the award by New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather, who coached him on the gold medal-winning 1984 Canada Cup team.
"When he spoke about Steve, [Sather] was just saying that Steve was really a mentor for young general managers coming into the league," said Nicholson. "You just watch how hard he works, how he communicates to other general managers and how he communicates to his players."
St-Louis, meanwhile, won five world championship gold medals in the 1990s and was the captain of Canada's silver medal-winning team at the 1998 Olympics.
"When you receive a call from Bob Nicholson it might be good or bad news," St-Louis said with a laugh. "I was very happy to hear this announcement.
"I realize how fortunate I am to be part of such an impressive group."
Nicholson said the 55-year-old from Laval, Que. — who will serve as Canada's assistant chef de mission in Sochi — is revered in hockey circles in her home province.
"[She] was such a leader," said Nicholson. "In Montreal she's seen as the Jean Beliveau of female hockey."
Drake's credentials are equally impressive.
6 national titles
The winningest coach in Canadian university hockey history with 697 career victories, he led the University of Alberta to six national titles. Drake also coached in the NHL and WHA, as well as internationally with both the men's and women's program.
"I've followed the work of Hockey Canada and I know the effort so many people have put into the game — and I guess I'm considered one of them," said the 86-year-old native of Yorkton, Sask. "I feel humble about that and it's just a very big honour for me. I'm very pleased about it."
Nicholson said Drake's contribution to coaching in Canada can't be understated.
"He was involved in the Olympics in 1980 but at the University of Alberta he really mentored Dave King, George Kingston, Mike Babcock, Ken Hitchcock, Tom Rennie ... the list just goes on an on," said Nicholson. "His record at U of A was something special."
Drake was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2013.
"Our teams have always been quite consistent," said Drake of the national program. "We've won quite a bit and we've lost occasionally, but we've never been one of those teams or organizations that were up for two or three years and down for two or three years."
Yzerman, St-Louis and Drake will be honoured at a ceremony in Vancouver in June. The class of 2014 joins previous inductees Jean Beliveau, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Gordon Renwick, Paul Henderson, Dave King and Mark Messier.
Candidates for the Order of Hockey Canada are chosen "on the basis of their outstanding contributions or service to the growth and development of the sport of hockey in Canada."