Mudcat Café message #1776075 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #85146   Message #1776075
Posted By: wysiwyg
04-Jul-06 - 07:15 PM
Thread Name: BS: Hockey's back...Are ya happy about it?
Subject: RE: BS: Hockey's back...Are ya happy about it?
4:18 PM EDT, 07/04/2006
Front office beckons for Yzerman after 22 years on ice with Red Wings

(CP) - Scotty Bowman calls Steve Yzerman "a real dream to have on your team," and expects the Red Wings' long-time captain to remain a part of the Detroit franchise now that he has retired as a player.

Bowman, who coached Yzerman from 1993 to 2002, doesn't see him as a coach and certainly not as a public-relations man, shaking hands with season-ticket holders and dropping ceremonial pucks at kids' tournaments. He sees Yzerman working in the front office - perhaps as a special assistant to the general manager, as baseball legend Al Kaline does with Red Wings' owner Mike Illitch's other team, the Detroit Tigers.

"He likes to make decisions," Bowman said Tuesday. "I think he'll step back for a month or so and then meet with people to see what he'll do.

"He wants to learn the business."

Detroit general manager Ken Holland and vice-president Jim Devellano told reporters Monday at Yzerman's retirement announcement that they hope Stevie Y will join them in the front office, although that decision has not yet been made.

It is expected that Yzerman will be named assistant GM.

Devellano told the Detroit Free Press they have groomed their captain for front-office work in recent years on the sly, including him in talks on trades, contract signings and other matters.

"We just kept it quiet, obviously, because he was a still a player," Devellano told the newspaper. "Over the last three, four, five years, Kenny Holland and myself have talked to him about eventually joining us on the management staff."

That would keep the 41-year-old Yzerman with the team he spent 22 stellar seasons as a player.

The gifted centre from Ottawa retired as a career Red Wing and the NHL's sixth-leading scorer of all time with 1,755 points. He also led the club to Stanley Cup titles in 1997, 1998 and 2002 and splits most of the team's scoring records with all-time great Gordie Howe.

"He was a wonderful player and a real dream to have on your team," said Bowman. "Some players don't need much coaching and he was one of them."

When Bowman was hired in Detroit, Yzerman was a 10-year NHL veteran and had been the team's captain for eight.

Bowman took a slick, speedy goal-scorer and playmaker and turned him into one of the NHL's best two-way centres while remaining an impact player on the attack.

"When I got there the team was one of the top-three on offence in the league, but they didn't play well defensively," he said. "I told Steve that if he would lead the charge and play well defensively, it would help.

"I said it may cut into his stats, but he didn't care. I compared him to (former Montreal Canadiens centre) Jacques Lemaire, who played with (Guy) Lafleur and (Steve) Shutt, but did a good job on defence.

"He really wanted to win a Stanley Cup. He'd played 10 years for that team and there had been a lot of disappointment. And then he won it three times and he got an Olympic gold medal as well."

Yzerman, who had been turned down by Team Canada early in his career, helped end Canada's 50-year gold medal drought with a victory at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

He was known as one of the NHL's great leaders, although teammates say he lead by example rather than with inspirational speeches or in-your-face confrontations.

"He didn't say a lot, but when he did he meant it, and then he'd go out and show them what to do," said Bowman. "And he was a wonderful role model.

"He never had any incidents in 22 years. No controversies. He was very humble."

Bowman recalled Yzerman several times playing through great pain, particularly with knee injuries late in his career. Some thought he was done when he missed most of the 2002-'03 season to have major knee surgery, but was back the next season.

But age and bad knees finally forced him to retire.

While Yzerman showed last season with 14 goals and 20 assists in 61 games that he still had something to contribute, his production had slowed to where, as he said Monday: "I've given up hope that I'm still improving."

"This was a tough decision for him," said Bowman. "He wanted to play again.

"He told me he could handle most things on the ice, but he didn't want to be a part-time player."