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Don't miss the Captain's Induction

by Christy Hammond / Detroit Red Wings
Steve Yzerman won three Stanley Cups as captain of the Red Wings, and is revered as one of the top all-time sports figures in Detroit.
DETROIT – In 1983 the Red Wings selected an
Yzerman: Heading to the Hall
18-year-old from Nepean, Ontario, with the fourth overall selection in the draft. Three Stanley Cups, one Olympic gold medal, Conn Smythe Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, Selke Trophy and Masterton Trophy later, the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee announced on Tuesday that Steve Yzerman is among the induction class of 2009.

The player that Detroit fans affectionately referred to as “The Captain” will be inducted during a ceremony in Toronto on November 9, headlining an extraordinary class, which includes former teammates from the 2002 Stanley Cup winning team, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille. New York Rangers’ legendary defenseman Brian Leetch is also a part of the 2009 class.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this news,” Yzerman said.  “I truly had chills down my spine when I got the news.”

It's the first time in 43 years that three players from one Stanley Cup winning team have joined the same Hall class. Toe Blake, Elmer Lach and Emile Bouchard won the Cup with the Canadiens in 1944 and entered the Hall in 1966. The first Cup-winning trio of Punch Boradbent, Reg Nobles and Nels Stewart were inducted in 1962. They won the Cup together with the Montreal Maroons in 1926.

Yzerman’s list of personal accomplishments is nothing short of impressive. He is the Red Wings’ all-time leader in assists (1,063) and ranks second all-time in goals (692) and points (1,755). Only Gordie Howe (1,687) and Alex Delvecchio (1,549) played more games in a Red Wings' sweater. Yzerman retired on July 3, 2006 with the sixth-highest point total in NHL history.

Yzerman continued to excel offensively even when the pressure mounted in the postseason as he recorded 70 goals and 115 assists in 196 playoff contests. It’s hard to forget Yzerman snagging the bouncing puck from Wayne Gretzky in Game 7 of the 1996 Western Conference semifinals against St. Louis before rushing up the ice and firing off a rocket from just inside the blue line to snap a scoreless tie in double overtime. He earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 1998 after leading all scorers with 18 assists and 24 points en route to a back-to-back title.

He inspired his teammates and the city of Detroit with his perseverance through intense knee pain during the 2001-02 season. Despite having to use his stick as a crutch to get up off the ice, Yzerman led his star-studded team with 23 points in as many games during the 2002 playoff run to win his third Stanley Cup. In the ensuing off-season, he had serious knee realignment surgery – typically reserved to help the elderly walk – returning to the lineup in late February and ultimately winning the Bill Masterton Trophy for his dedication and effort to the sport of hockey.

"He was a pretty quiet leader but whenever he said something, he would go out and prove it on the ice, producing results through his work ethic," Red Wings current captain Nicklas Lidstrom. "The bigger the game, the better Stevie played. One of the things I've tried to do is lead by example."

Yzerman modified his offensive-first approach under the tutelage of coach Scotty Bowman, developing into a strong two-way forward and eventually winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward in 2000.

In 23 seasons, Yzerman led the club in scoring 11 times and scored over 100 points six times. He set franchise records for goals (65), assists (90) and points (155). His five seasons of 50-or-more goals are the most in Red Wings' history and he owns the three-highest goal-scoring seasons in franchise history in 1988-89 (65); 1989-90 (62); and 1992-93 (58).

It was Yzerman’s role as team leader that endeared him to so many hockey fans – not just Red Wings' fans – and garnered respect from his opponents across the league. Yzerman retired after serving 20 years as captain, setting a record across all North American sports teams. Even though he has retired, Yzerman remains the face of the Red Wings franchise alongside Gordie Howe.

For his retirement night -- Jan. 2, 2007 -- the team produced a 178-page book "Nineteen: A Salute to Steve Yzerman" that chronicled his illustrious career. In the book, all 30 team captains from the 2006-07 season, as well as other hockey greats, shared stories and memories of Yzerman.

"Steve was one of the most complete players to ever play the game; from offense, defense and a terrific face-off specialist," Bowman said. "He was a tremendous leader and competitor with all of the intangibles and characteristics of a superstar."

While Yzerman’s knee could no longer endure the daily grind of the NHL, his passion for the game remains as evidenced in his work off-the-ice for the front office of the Wings' organization as well as Team Canada. Yzerman will go for his second Olympic gold medal, but first as general manager, for Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

"His offensive talents speak for themselves," said Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer in 2007. "But the thing that sticks out in my mind from playing against him is how he would do the little things, like go down to block a shot or stand in there and take the hit to try to get the puck out of the zone. ... Those are the things you have to do to have success in hockey, and when you see one of your best offensive players doing those things, it's pretty inspiring."

Yzerman will be enshrined during the Hockey Hall of Fame's Induction Weekend, Nov. 6-9.  For more information about the Induction Weekend call 416-933-8237 or CLICK HERE.

On Nov. 12, the Red Wings will recognize Yzerman's Hall of Fame induction during the game against Vancouver at Joe Louis Arena. Everyone in attendance will receive a special commomorative plaque (see above), courtesy of Fifth Third Bank. All of the trophies won throughout Yzerman's career will be on display that evening, and Yzerman will drop the puck during a special ceremonial face-off that night.

Get tickets to the Red Wings' Nov 12 game vs. the Canucks by CLICKING HERE.

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