(Toledo, OH) It was with sadness that I read of the retirement of Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who announced he is leaving after an illustrious 22-year NHL career.
Yzerman, who led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup titles and spent his entire career in Detroit, said he plans to stay in the organization while devoting more time to his family.
I first met Yzerman in 1983 when I worked at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (I used to manage food and beverage operations for Olympia Entertainment). Even as an 18-year-old, Yzerman stood out among the players on the then-downtrodden Red Wings, and it was evident that he was soon to be a dominant player in the league.
It was also evident that Steve was a person of class and integrity. My dealings with him were limited to occasional hellos; he, of course, was an NHL star, and I was a guy who dealt in pizza, beer, and hot dogs. Yet Steve Yzerman always had a kind word for everyone he passed in the building, and signed autographs until the last fan received a moment of his time.
The 10-time All-Star who played in 1,514 regular-season games is only one side of Steve Yzerman. On league career lists he finished sixth in points (1,755), seventh in assists (1,063) and eighth in goals (692).
I will most remember Steve Yzerman, the class act, who was never the sort of sports star unwilling to donate time to charitable causes. Who never embarassed his team with selfish play or off-ice antics. Who always stopped when a kid held out out a program for a signature. Who said "hi" to every employee at Joe Louis.
Thanks for the memories, Steve.