Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Yzerman, Steve

Born on May 9, 1965 in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, Stephen “Steve” Yzerman rose quickly from junior hockey league teams in Canada to a career-long, professional hockey relationship with the Detroit Red Wings. In the fall of 1983, this offensive wunderkind from the Peterborough Petes made his first appearance at Joe Louis Arena. 18-year-old Yzerman was the first draft pick of new Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch. Heralded as the beginning of Detroit’s hockey renaissance, Yzerman led the team in scoring that year and became the youngest player at the time to be named to the All-Star Game.

When coach Jacques Demers named the baby-faced center as captain in 1986, he explained he “wanted a guy with the Red Wings’ crest tattooed on his chest.” Yzerman wore the “C” over the winged wheel for nineteen seasons, another NHL record. By the time Yzerman retired in 2006 he was sixth in all-time National Hockey League scoring with 1,755 points. He had also almost single-handedly restored pride and respectability to a franchise that had fallen on hard times.

In some ways the man known simply as “The Captain” seemed miscast as a leader. His manner was quiet and understated, but he was intensely focused on the Stanley Cup. Despite a series of serious and painful injuries, Yzerman became one of the most respected players in the game. Along the way the Wings – and Detroit – celebrated Stanley Cup wins in 1997, 1998 and 2002. His retired uniform number “19” hangs from the rafters at Little Caesars Arena.

Yzerman retired from playing following the 2006 season, but continued with the Red Wings as vice president before leaving in 2010 to become general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning - an opportunity he had hoped to have with the Red Wings. That goal was realized in 2019 when he was made general manager and executive vice president of the team he called home for 27 seasons. 

His achievements include induction into the Michigan, Canadian, Hockey and International Halls of Fame; named as one of the 100 greatest NHL players at the NHL centennial anniversary in 2017 and; leading Canada to over half a dozen world and international hockey championships, two in winter Olympic games.



Steve Yzerman holding the Stanley Cup on the cover of the Detroit Free Press' "Stanleytown", 1997 - 1997.018.002

Issue of Goal Magazine featuring Steve Yzerman on the cover, 1990 - 2014.003.155

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