“Come Home Stevie! Come Home Stevie!”
That’s what a packed house at Joe Louis Arena was screaming as Steve Yzerman walked away from the podium during the closing ceremony for the Detroit Red Wings home for the last 38 years. Yzerman is a hall of famer who wore the winged wheel across his chest for 22 years. His #19 jersey will hang in the rafters of whatever home the Red Wings have from now until eternity, never to be worn by another player on that team. He was the captain for 19 seasons and he’s still known simply as “The Captain.” He is Hockeytown and it’s time for him to come back home and lead the team he loves.
This is a scenario that makes too much sense to not happen. Following his retirement from playing in the NHL in 2006, the Red Wings made Yzerman team vice president. In that position and through his stint running team Canada, he was groomed for the position of general manager. Under Ken Holland, the Red Wings current general manager, he learned the tricks of the trade and was part of another Stanley Cup championship. There was even an attempt to make Yzerman the GM before he eventually departed for Tampa Bay, but Ken Holland declined a promotion that would have made room for Stevie Y in the front office.
In the time since Holland obstructed Yzerman’s path to his rightful place at the helm of the organization, the Captain’s Lightning have won 1 Stanley Cup and the Wings have none. This isn’t to insinuate that Yzerman is necessarily a better GM than Holland, but after some bad contracts and steadily declining performance of the team in recent years, Holland seems to be on his way out after an illustrious career in Detroit. The time is now to get the band back together. Holland has two years left on his contract and Yzerman only has one, that seems like a deal that is more than doable.
There are whispers that perhaps Steve Yzerman and Chris Ilitch, son of former owner Mike Ilitch and the guy currently signing the checks, don’t have the same type of relationship. Mike Ilitch only ever cared about giving the people of Detroit a winner and because of that, he will always be remembered fondly by fans in the Motor City. Rumor has it that his son is much more concerned with the bottom line and is not as willing to spend endless amounts of money just for the chance to win big. With a reputation for being tighter with the money, it’s also said that he is a much more hands-on owner and because of that Stevie Y might want to avoid giving up the good thing he has in Tampa Bay. I call bullshit.
Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings go together like peanut butter and jelly. He belongs in Detroit where he made a career and turned the Red Wings into a dynasty. He laid the bricks that built Hockeytown and it’s hard for me believe that he hasn’t simply been waiting for his chance to return. The fans in Detroit should be forever grateful to Ken Holland for the teams that he built but it’s becoming clear that he doesn’t have the same success in the salary cap era as he did before it. Holland’s time is ending and that will leave the door open for Stevie to come home, just like the fans want. Chris Ilitch should make sure he doesn’t let this opportunity slip away. His dad sure wouldn’t have.