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Jeff Riger: If Detroit Can’t, Why Not Root For Yzerman?

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The Wings are in the process of getting ready to face an old friend! That friend happens to be one of the greatest Red Wings of all time as Detroit makes the trip to Tampa on Thursday to battle the Lightning and their General manager Steve Yzerman. “Stevie” has been away from Detroit for almost a full hockey season as his “Bolts” are the second best team in the Eastern conference, a far cry from missing the post season for a third consecutive year in 2009-10. The Lightning have a new coach, veteran players that have to returned to form and the best scorer in the game in Steven Stamkos.

Many Wings were asked about the job their former captain has done in Florida and it should come as no surprise that nobody seems to be surprised with Yzerman’s success. “The thing about Steve going there is he’s going to be steady on the rudder.” Mike Babcock said. “He signed a long term deal, he has a great name, knows players, knows what hockey sense is and knows what compete is. I’m sure that is how he is going to build his team.” The current captain Nick Lidstrom credits the former captain as well saying, “He’s been doing a tremendous job with that organization.” Lidstrom also admits that it’s a bit weird that Yzerman is no longer synonymous with the Wings, “it is kind of awkward seeing his name associated with a another organization, having played with him for 15 years and him being part of the organization for over 20 years, it’s a little different seeing him with another team. Lidstrom, who has not talked to Yzerman since he has taken the Tampa gig says he hopes to see old “number 19″ at the game on Thursday where he will tell him “congratulations’” for the job he has done thus far.

So there it is, life is good for Yzerman and his Lightning and it’s equally as good for his former team, the Red Wings. So why can’t I shake this feeling? Are Detroiters truly happy for Yzerman or are they bitter that their once great captain decided to take another job after spending his whole career in the area? When “Stevie” took the position, the majority of people seemed to be happy for him, but there were some fans that described Yzerman as a traitor because he decided to “jump ship” as they called it. I never understood those feelings! Yzerman had no other choice! He had just won a gold medal with team Canada in the Olympics as their General Manager and he spent the four years before that working in the Wings front office. If Yzerman wanted to eventually become the GM of the Wings, he, you, I and everybody knew that, that process would not have happened for an extremely long time, considering how good Ken Holland and Jim Nill are. So what was he supposed to do? Sit and wait and maybe never get the chance to advance his career in the way he wanted?

So I wish Steve the best and furthermore the Tampa Bay Lightning has become my “2nd team” of sorts. Of course I would not root for Tampa when the Wings are playing them, nobody would. But what about when they are playing other teams? Can and do you consider the Lightning as a team that you would love to see win if the Wings cannot? Do you want them to come out of the East in the playoffs and would you want them to hoist the cup as long as it meant they were not beating the Wings? I would and I do! If you check out Tampa, they are an exciting team, and then add the fact that Yzerman is in charge and I have taken the mindset that if Detroit can’t do it then I want Yzerman to….again!

What about you?

Listen to the Wings take on the Lightning Thursday on “The Ticket” starting at 7:10pm. Also check out the videos below to find out what Mike Babcock and Nick Lidstrom think about Yzerman, the Fathers trip and Brad Stuart coming back to play.

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