By: Jeff Riger
Fans remember different things about former Wings captain Steve Yzerman, but I remember the waiting.
I wasn’t in the media for Yzerman’s entire career, but the part I was here for, I’ll never forget the constant waiting for Stevie to speak after games and practices. Some days it took up to a hour for the former captain to chat and on Saturday night when Yzerman’s Tampa Bay Lightning were in town, things were pretty much the same.
After, what seemed like another lengthy wait that began at the morning skate and lasted until minutes before the game started, Yzerman finally appeared, and everybody had the same question…
Will he play in the Winter Classic Alumni game at Comerica Park on New Year’s Eve?
“I haven’t given it much thought, I’ve been pretty busy with our team and watching a lot of hockey games for the Olympics, so I haven’t really thought that much ahead” Yzerman said.
The former captain claims he hasn’t even talked to Ken Holland about the game and wouldn’t even commit to coming to the event, even if it was just to stand there, wave and be celebrated and not even play.
Yzerman claims he has only skated a handful of times since retiring and joked that he currently doesn’t even own a pair of skates.
The Alumni game doesn’t seem to matter all that much to Yzerman and I would guess he will not be in attendance come New Year’s Eve in Detroit.
But he should be!
Yzerman has a lot on his plate these days, not only is he the General Manager of the Lightning but he also remains the GM of team Canada as they try to repeat winning Gold when the Winter Olympics start in 2014 in Russia.
As much as the Alumni game means to the many players playing, it probably means much more to the fans.
It’s the fans that will pack Comerica Park in freezing temperatures to catch one last glimpse of their hockey heroes as they take on the alumni team of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s the fans that will stand and cheer as each former Wing is announced.
And, it’s the fans that deserve to see 19 at least make an appearance because he was such a big part of the success that has happened in Hockey Town.
If Yzerman doesn’t show, it won’t ruin the event and people will surly understand but there will be something missing.
How do you show a video montage without Yzerman? You can’t!
As much as it was Yzerman’s responsibility to captain all those teams back then, it remains his responsibility now to be in attendance on New Year’s Eve to give the paying customer what they want; one last stroll down memory lane.
If nothing else, Yzerman should show for the millions of people that supported him, cheered for him, wore his jersey and paid to see him play all those years.
Isn’t that a big enough reason to attend?
A media member recently pointed out to me that the last image of Yzerman that people remember was him walking off the ice in Edmonton, dejected after the Wings lost to the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs in 2006.
That was his last game, but it doesn’t have to be.
This game is a big deal and if Sergei Fedorov can make his way here from Russia and Nick Lidstrom from Sweden than why not Yzerman from Florida?
Check out the Yzerman video as he talks about the Alumni game, signing Valteri Filpula and his impressions of this current Wings team.