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Yzerman excelling off the ice, just like he did on it

Thursday, 11.05.2009 / 11:26 AM / Hall of Fame

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"I've been with the organization here in Detroit my entire career. I really enjoy being a part of the management team. It's important to me. But (managing a team) is a goal I've always had. It's something that I would have to consider."
-- Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman is in his fourth season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings' front office, but there remains a blurry line for people like Nicklas Lidstrom, who played his first 14 years in the NHL alongside the legendary No. 19.

"Sometimes you still look at him as a teammate," Lidstrom told NHL.com. "When you see him and talk to him sometimes he feels like a teammate, but you realize, too, that he's sitting in the front of the bus and in front of the plane with all the staff, so he's not one of the players anymore."

At the beginning of his second career, Yzerman felt the same way. Was he a teammate? Was he a friend? Was he a boss?

It was all new and different, but not anymore.

Now, Red Wings GM Ken Holland, for years Yzerman's boss and now his colleague, believes the soon-to-be Hall of Famer is ready to run his own NHL team.

"He's in his fourth year in the front office so he's very comfortable voicing his opinion," Holland told NHL.com. "He's ready to be a manager."

Technically, Yzerman already is.

As the Executive Director for Canada's Olympic team, Yzerman arguably is the most influential Canadian sports figure living on U.S. soil. He's the architect of the team that every Canadian believes should win gold in Vancouver a few months from now.

But once the Olympics are over and the summer of 2010 comes, Yzerman may have to struggle with a very difficult decision.

Does he want to stay in his current role as Detroit Vice President and Alternate Governor, or does he want to go after something he so very much desires, which is a managerial job in the NHL?

"In the right situation, it's something I would consider," said Yzerman, who has been with the Red Wings for 26 years, since being drafted by them fourth in 1983. "I've been with the organization here in Detroit my entire career. I really enjoy being a part of the management team. It's important to me. But (managing a team) is a goal I've always had. It's something that I would have to consider. I'll get through this year with the Olympics and we'll worry about it later on. Right now it's not really on my mind."

Holland, who turns 54 Monday, the day Yzerman goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame, isn't sure how much longer he's going to go on as the Wings' GM.

Yzerman, though, isn't the only one waiting in the wings.

Longtime assistant GM Jim Nill also is supremely qualified to run his own team. If both Yzerman and Nill, Holland's right-hand man for 15 years, want to be general managers, well, something obviously is going to have to give.

"In my mind, I'm lucky there are three of us that are qualified to be general managers," Holland said. "Steve Yzerman and Jim Nill have made a decision that the success of the team is more important than the success of their own individual careers. Now at some point in time everybody has to make a decision that they feel they are up to the next challenge and they are looking for the next opportunity.

"Come the summer of 2010, who knows what Jim Nill and Steve Yzerman will be thinking? Do Steve and Jim want to wait until I'm finished? Is there some type of different creative management team that allows everyone to stay here? Time has to play itself out, but if Steve wants to be a general manager or president, certainly he's ready to oversee a hockey team."

Lidstrom, though, still would look at Yzerman as his teammate and his captain.

"It feels like he is when you're talking to him," Lidstrom said.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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