"It’s a big event, and I really feel it’s a great celebration of the history not only of the Red Wings, but of the [Toronto Maple Leafs] as well," Yzerman told NHL Network. "And obviously playing in Detroit for such a long time, I thought it was appropriate to be a part of that."
Yzerman, the captain of the Red Wings from 1986 to 2006, was the biggest name remaining that had not committed to playing in the alumni game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, which will take place on Dec. 31, the day before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the same two teams.
"Steve is one of the greatest Red Wings players ever," Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. "His presence at the Alumni Showdown makes a great day even better."
Serving as GM for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Canadian men's national team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in two months, it was unclear if Yzerman would have the free time to return to Detroit and play in the warm-up to the Winter Classic.
However, Yzerman informed the team this week that he will take part, joining a long list of former teammates that helped turn the city into Hockeytown with a two-decade run of dominance. He indicated Holland recently asked him to play.
"No, no real pressure. We’ve just spent some time together over the last couple of weeks with Olympic matters, and he just asked if I’d consider playing," Yzerman said. "Thought about it for a while, and my schedule is more clear where I’m going to be and whether I’m going to be available, and it fits into the schedule, so I decided it was right to be a part of it."
Igor Larionov, Tomas Holmstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Chelios, Slava Fetisov, Paul Coffey and Nicklas Lidstrom are among the players that have agreed to play in the game. Jacques Demers and Scotty Bowman, the two primary coaches during Yzerman's career, will serve as coaches for the Alumni Showdown, joined by legendary forward Gordie Howe and Barry Smith, who served as an associate coach of the Red Wings from 1993 to 2004.
Yzerman, the longest-serving captain in the history of the League, was the No. 4 pick in the 1983 NHL Draft and joined the Red Wings as an 18-year-old the following fall. He went on to win three Stanley Cups with Detroit; the first, in 1997, ended a 42-year drought for the Original Six franchise.
He finished his 22-year career with 1,755 points in 1,514 regular-season games. He added 185 points in 196 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Yzerman retired as the sixth-highest scorer in NHL history and still ranks among the Red Wings’ all-time greats with 1,514 games played (4th), 692 goals (2nd), 1,063 assists (1st) and 1,755 points (2nd). He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1984 and was selected to 10 NHL All-Star Games. During his career, he won the 1989 Lester B. Pearson Award (players' MVP), the Frank J. Selke Trophy (2000) and the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (2003). He was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1998.
On the international stage, Yzerman has represented Canada regularly. Most notably, Yzerman was a two-time Olympian, at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, where he helped Canada capture its first gold medal in more than 50 years.
Yzerman retired after the 2005-06 season. Three years later he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Fans can secure the chance to see Yzerman and others in action by purchasing tickets at www.DetroitRedWings.com/2014WinterClassic or by calling 313-471-7575. Each ticket is good for both games of the New Year’s Eve doubleheader (1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.). The contests are the final events of the 2013 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™ before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1, 2014.
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