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Steve Yzerman    

Yzerman has spent his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings, leading the team to three Stanley Cup championships, in 1997, 1998, and 2002. At the age of 21, Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings in the 1986-87 season, and to date has been captain

Yzerman has spent his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings, leading the team to three Stanley Cup championships, in 1997, 1998, and 2002. At the age of 21, Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings in the 1986-87 season, and to date has been captain of his team longer than any other player in NHL history.

Yzerman is the winner of numerous awards and trophies during his playing career, including the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1989, the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1998, the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward in 2000, and the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance in 2003. He is a nine-time NHL All-Star, a First Team All-Star in 2000, and a member of the All-Rookie Team in 1984. Yzerman currently ranks 6th all-time in NHL career points.

Growing up in his hometown of Nepean, Ontario, where he attended Bell High School, Steve Yzerman (pronounced EYE-zer-man) started out playing center in the juniors with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, from 1981 to 1983. He had 91 points in 56 games in his second year with the Petes, but his numbers were far from what a future NHL phenom would have had because Peterborough skated four lines, each having equal playing time.

Jim Devellano, the Wings GM at the time, had originally set his sights on Pat LaFontaine for the 1983 draft. LaFontaine was taken 3rd by the Islanders, so with the 4th overall pick the Wings selected Yzerman. After being drafted, the Red Wings feared he would be too small to compete in the NHL, standing 5'11" and weighing 185 pounds. Detroit was fully prepared to send him back to Peterborough for another year of junior hockey. When Yzerman arrived at training camp in 1983, "he immediately was our best player," Devellano recalled. In his first professional season, Yzerman tallied 39 goals and 87 points, and finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.

In 1986 he was named captain, the youngest player to ever be named captain in the team's then 60-year history. During the 1988-1989 season Yzerman recorded 155 points, a total that only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have surpassed. Yzerman finished third in regular season scoring behind Lemieux and Gretzky and won the Pearson Trophy, as well as being a finalist for the Hart and Art Ross Trophies (Gretzky won the Hart, Lemieux won the Art Ross).

In 1995, Yzerman led Detroit to its first Stanley Cup finals series, the first for the team since the 1960s, but they were swept by the New Jersey Devils. In 1996, Detroit finished with an NHL record 62 regular season wins but they lost in the Conference finals to the eventual champions Colorado Avalanche.

In 1997, Yzerman led Detroit to its first Stanley Cup in 42 years by sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in 4 straight games. The following year Detroit repeated the feat, taking four in a row from the Washington Capitals. Yzerman's leadership and 24 points earned him the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. In an act of class, Yzerman handed the Cup first to Vladimir Konstantinov, a Red Wing defenseman who had been injured severely in a car accident just six days after the Cup victory in 1997.

On 26 November 1999, Yzerman became the eleventh player in NHL history to score 600 goals. The 1999, 2000, and 2001 seasons would be filled with playoff frustrations as Detroit lost in the second round twice to Colorado, and exited in the first round at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings. However, in 2000, Yzerman made the NHL All-Star First Team as centre and won the Frank J. Selke trophy as best defensive forward.

In 2001-2002, Yzerman re-aggravated a longtime knee injury, forcing him to miss 30 regular season games. Playing on one good knee, he led Detroit to its 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 years, scoring 23 points in 23 games.

The following summer, Yzerman underwent osteotomy surgery for knee realignment, a procedure typically reserved for the elderly. Yzerman missed 66 games and received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he returned in mid-April, registering an assist in his first game back. His comeback from this type of surgery is rare, if not unprecedented, among professional athletes.

On 2 August 2005, after the conclusion of the NHL lockout that wiped out the 2004-2005 season, Yzerman signed a one-year deal with the Wings, ensuring that Detroit would have the same captain for the 19th consecutive season. When he retires, Yzerman will do so as the longest serving captain of a single team in NHL history.

On 31 March 2006 Steve scored his 691st NHL career goal versus the Chicago Blackhawks. He passed Lemieux for eighth place for career goals.


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