There isn’t a sports star more universally loved than Steve Yzerman.
His dedication to the game, sportsmanship, and passion for his country are unrivaled.
He was born in Cranbrook, British Columbia in 1965. By the age of 16 he was playing with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, and by age 18, was selected fourth overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
Standing 5-foot-11, Yzerman was a crucial part of rebuilding a Red Wings team that was accustomed to losing.
He immediately established himself as an impact player at both ends of the ice.
In his first season, he set Detroit records for goals by a rookie with 39 and for points with 87. He played in the All-Star Game after only half a season in the league, making him the youngest player ever to don an All-Star sweater.
Building on an impressive rookie season, Yzerman continued to record impressive numbers. He had a knack for the pretty goal and began to draw fans back to the beleaguered team.
Despite his early achievements, Yzerman never seemed to let his success go to his head and remained very much a team player.
In 1986, the 21 year-old Yzerman was named the Red Wings' new captain, making him the youngest player ever to earn that honour.
Jacques Demers, the Red Wings coach at the time, said he "wanted a guy with the Red Wings crest tattooed on his chest." Yzerman was his man!
The next season, he led the Wings to their first division title in 23 years.
Every season between 1987 and 1993 Yzerman would top 100 points. The highlight of that stretch came during the 1988-89 season when he scored a remarkable 65 goals, 90 assists and a whopping 155 points. He also went on to win the Lester B. Pearson Trophy that year.
During the 1994-95 season, the Wings finished the year atop the standings winning the Presidents’ Trophy, but were swept by the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup finals.
It wasn’t until 1997 that everything came together for the hard-working captain.
He would once again lead his team to the Stanley Cup finals. However, this time Yzerman and the Red Wings were victorious, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in four consecutive games.
At the end of the final game, in front of his home fans chanting "Stevie" over and over, Yzerman raised the Cup over his head, the first Red Wing to do so since 1955.
With Yzerman wearing the ‘C,’ the Red Wings would go on to win another two Stanley Cups and solidify themselves as one of the most dominant teams in the NHL.
When Yzerman wasn’t busy winning Stanley Cups, he often represented his country in international tournaments as a member of Canada’s national hockey team.
In 2002, Yzerman won an Olympic gold medal, making him one of only three players to ever win an Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup in the same year.
In 2006, the longest serving Captain of a single team in NHL history, announced his retirement, finishing his career as the sixth all-time leading scorer.
To honour ‘Stevie Y’ the following season, the Red Wings retired his jersey number 19 in a pre-game ceremony at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
As an additional honour, the captain’s "C" was added to the corner of his banner to forever commemorate him as the "The Captain."
With his playing days behind him, Yzerman took on the role of general manager of Team Canada for the 2007 and 2008 World Championships. With Yzerman at the helm Canada recorded a 17-1 record and captured a Gold and Silver medal.
As a result of such an impressive career, in 2008, the Hall of Famer was appointed executive director of Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympic hockey team.
Fans across the country should rest assured knowing there isn’t a person with a bigger heart or better resume to lead our men’s hockey team to gold, than Yzerman.
Go Canada Go!