Red Wings name Steve Yzerman general manager
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT — Steve Yzerman is getting another chance to return the Detroit Red Wings to glory.
The Hockey Hall of Famer did it as one the game’s all-time great leaders, helping Detroit end a 42-year championship drought with the first of three Stanley Cup celebrations of his playing tenure in Detroit.
Now, he has a shot to do it as the Red Wings’ general manager.
The Captain is coming home, a move that fired up a fan base and drew emotional responses from ownership. Perhaps in vain, Yzerman tried to pump the brakes on all the excitement.
“This is going to take time,” Yzerman said repeatedly Friday as he made a plea for patience.
Yzerman provides hope and a jolt of energy for a franchise that desperately needs both after going three straight years without a playoff appearance. His return means Ken Holland’s run as GM is over after 22 years, but he isn’t going far:
He starts his new job as senior vice president with a multiyear contract, replacing his GM deal that had only one season remaining.
Chris Ilitch, the president and chief executive of Ilitch Holdings, which owns the Red Wings, said Holland encouraged him to hire Yzerman to replace him after the Tampa Bay Lightning gave the Red Wings permission to talk to him about the job in March.
“He said, ‘Steve should be the next general manager of the Red Wings,'” Ilitch recalled.
Detroit drafted Yzerman No. 4 overall in 1983 and he helped turn around the franchise. His No. 19 jersey hangs in the rafters alongside those of Gordie Howe and other greats along with the franchise’s 11 Stanley Cup banners. He retired in 2006 and left two years later to lead the Lightning.
And now the man adored by fans and affectionately known in the Motor City as The Captain is back.
Yzerman is taking the reins of a team that is enduring its worst stretch since the early 1980s when the team was known locally as the “Dead Wings” and needed to give away a car at each home game to get people to attend games.