Yzerman steps into front office with Red Wings

September 26th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Yzerman steps into front office with Red Wings


DETROIT Steve Yzerman was at Joe Louis Arena for practice, and afterward headed for the Red Wings' locker room, naturally drifting toward his old locker.
But there was something different about Yzerman: Where for so long he'd have been in skates and hockey gear, he wore a sleek business suit, and instead of joining practice, he watched and thought about how he'd made the right decision to retire July 3, after playing for the Wings for 22 seasons.
It has been known for years that Yzerman, 41, would transition into a front-office job once he hung up his skates, but it wasn't until Monday that he acquired a new title, going from captain to vice president. Yzerman will work with general manager Ken Holland, assistant general manager Jim Nill and senior vice president Jim Devellano and learn all about the other side of the sport he loves.
"Really, for me it's initially going to be an education in how the business works and how the management side of running a team works," Yzerman said. "What I'll be doing is really spending time with Kenny and Jim Nill and Jimmy D. and observing how they operate, whether it be contract negotiations or player analysis just sitting in and listening in and watching hockey. I think I have some freedom as far as the business side of the organization to spend some time with them as well. So, initially, it's really going to be an education for me."
On his first day at his new job, Yzerman met in the morning with Holland, and then watched his old teammates skate hard, content to stay in the stands.
"I thought, you know, 'I think I made a good decision here,' " Yzerman said with a smile.
Yzerman helped Detroit win Stanley Cups in 1997, '98 and 2002 in 20 postseason appearances and he ranks eighth all-time in the NHL record books with 185 playoff points. The 10-time All Star led all active players last season with 1,755 regular-season points, a total that trails just five in league history.
His No. 19 jersey will be retired Jan. 2, and hoisted alongside Gordie Howe's No. 9, Terry Sawchuk's No. 1, Ted Lindsay's No. 7, Alex Delvecchio's No. 10, and Sid Abel's No. 12.
Yzerman no longer has the 'C' or his old locker. Instead he has a swanky title and a corner office.
"It's good to get back in the organization for him," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "I think it's going to be a big job for him. I'm happy for him."
Coach Mike Babcock joked about getting used to seeing Yzerman in a suit and pointed out that he didn't really need to find a new job.
"I think he's been an unbelievable player, and you can't be as good as he is without passion for the game," Babcock said. "He's not working in hockey because he needs the money. So, obviously, he has a burning desire to be here."
Yzerman, though, also has a desire to take things easy. Over the past month he has attended a Giants game in New York and was on hand to see Michigan demolish Notre Dame.
Retirement has its advantages.
"Life has slowed down a little bit," he said. "I've enjoyed that. The month of August, where guys are training hard and taking life real serious again, getting ready for the season, I was just kind of goofing off, which I kind of enjoyed. It's been a relaxing fall."

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