The Detroit Red Wings
' alumni team apparently will have to find itself another captain.
Hours after the NHL awarded the 2013 Bridgestone Winter Classic to Detroit, legendary Wings captain Steve Yzerman
said he doesn't plan to play in the game between the Wings' and Toronto Maple Leafs
' alumni at Comerica Park on Dec. 31.
"It will be a fantastic event with two great organizations at a storied venue," Yzerman said via email to Eric Lacy of the Detroit News. "The perfect location and matchup, this is wonderful for the NHL.
"At this time I don't plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the Classic on TV."
Yzerman, now the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning
, reportedly did not offer a reason for his decision not to suit up.
Wings fans won't be the only ones disappointed if Yzerman sticks to his decision.
"I'm working hard on him," former teammate Kris Draper
, who retired from the Wings as a player after last season and now holds a front office position with the team, said before the report of Yzerman's decision surfaced. "Good luck, I guess … but we'll see. But, I mean, who wouldn't want to be a part of this? I don't think it's going to be too hard to fill the alumni rosters."
Yzerman is one of the most popular athletes in Detroit sports history. He wore the "C" with the Wings for more than 1,300 games, and led the club to three Stanley Cups, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1998.
Another player who opted not to put on the Winged Wheel in the alumni game is goaltender Curtis Joseph
-- he played for both teams but said he would only dress for the game as a Leaf.
"I heard about it, I thought about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do that,' " Joseph told NHL.com. "There was no question in my mind. I'd play for Toronto, of course."
The Wings' alums could get a boost if the team's current captain, 41-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom
, opts to retire after this season and return for the game. Lidstrom has taken his time after each of the last couple of seasons before deciding whether to play again, and he said he plans to do the same this summer.
Will fans see him in a Red Wings uniform or an alumni uniform?
"We'll have to wait and see I guess," Lidstrom said while standing on the field at Michigan Stadium, where the Winter Classic will take place on Jan. 1. "I guess I have a choice. (GM) Kenny (Holland) wants to know that, too."