DETROIT – It looks like Steve Yzerman may indeed have to go out and buy a pair of skates.
The long-time Detroit Red Wings captain made it official Tuesday that he has committed to the Alumni Showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 31 at Comerica Park.
“Looking forward to celebrating the history of the Red Wings with all my former colleagues as well as the faithful fans of Detroit,” Yzerman said in a text message. “It will be an enjoyable afternoon.”
The next question that needs to be answered is whether he’ll play in the game itself.
When Yzerman and his Tampa Bay Lightning were in town on Dec. 9, he seemed very noncommittal on the whole event that will take place the day before the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.
“I haven’t given it really much thought,” Yzerman said at the time. “I’ve been pretty busy with our team, and watching a lot of hockey games for the Olympics, so I really haven’t looked that far ahead.”
He also said that he has only skated a few times since his 2006 retirement and has had no desire to skate since.
“I don’t even own a pair of skates,” Yzerman continued. “So, I may have to take up a collection.”
Yzerman’s last game in a Wings jersey was on the road in Edmonton, in Game 6 of the 2006 playoffs.
“They didn’t know at the time that was going to be his last game,” Chris Osgood said. “This gives them another opportunity.
“It’ll be big for the fans to get a chance to see him on the ice,” Osgood added. “It’s a good thing to have one of the greatest Red Wings in the game.”
Yzerman, 48, played all 23 seasons of his NHL career in Detroit and worked under Wings general manager Ken Holland for four seasons in the front office before leaving to be the Lightning general manager.
“I think it’s great for the organization that he committed to the game,” said Kris Draper, who was Yzerman’s teammate for 12 seasons. “It’s great for the fans and their chance to get one more look at a player who did so much for the organization on and off the ice. We’re excited to go on the ice with Y-zer one more time.”
Other players committed to playing are Niklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Kirk Maltby, Osgood, Draper, Sergei Fedorov and Paul Coffey.
“I don’t want to speculate why he committed, but maybe he saw all the guys who committed to playing,” Draper said. “The Russian Five will be there, Shanahan and all the guys. Maybe he just wanted to be around the guys one more time that he had so much success with. Maybe that played a part in it. I think everyone involved in the game is excited that he is playing in the game.”
Yzerman is the longest-serving captain in NHL history and ranks among the franchise leaders in games (fourth with 1,514), goals (second with 692), assists (first with 1,063) and points (second with 1,755).
He was drafted by the Wings in 1983 and was named captain in 1986.
“Steve is one of the greatest Red Wings players ever,” Holland said in a statement. “His presence at the Alumni Showdown makes a great day even better.”
Yzerman, who retired as the sixth-leading scorer in NHL history, played on three Stanley Cup winning teams (1997, 1998, 2002) and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the playoff MVP, in 1998.
He also won the Selke Trophy, as the league’s best defensive forward, in 2000.
“He influenced so many of us on and off the ice,” said Draper, who learned of the announcement over the NHL ticker. “This is special for the Red Wings organization.”