Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who played his entire 22-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, paid tribute Saturday to Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who died Friday at the age of 87.
"I'm extremely saddened to hear news of the passing of Mr. Ilitch," Yzerman, a former Red Wings captain, said in a statement. "Both Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, as well as their entire family, have had an immeasurable impact on not only my career, but my life.
"Going back to the age of 18 when I arrived in Detroit, the guidance, generosity, concern and love Mr. Ilitch had always shown me and my family are things are things I will forever be grateful for."
Yzerman, chosen by the Red Wings with the No. 4 pick in the 1983 NHL Draft, scored 1,755 points (692 goals, 1,063 assists) and won the Stanley Cup three times.
"I was extremely fortunate to have played my entire career for a man whose love of hockey and burning desire to win were the catalysts which drove the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup championships after his purchasing the team in 1982," Yzerman said, before referencing Ilitch's ownership of the Detroit Tigers. "Mr. Ilitch has left an incredible legacy in baseball, hockey and Metropolitan Detroit. He will forever be remembered for all the ways he enriched our lives.
"Mike Ilitch will live on vividly in my mind and heart forever."