Steve Yzerman still might run the Detroit Red Wings someday, but it won’t be anytime soon.
Which isn’t all that surprising to me.
When news broke Monday that the former Red Wings captain had agreed to a four-year contract extension to remain as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s VP and GM through the 2018-19 season, it reminded me of a conversation I had with Yzerman more than a decade ago.
Back in 1997, Yzerman’s hometown of Nepean, Ontario, was in the process of naming one of its ice rinks after him, and when I asked him about the honor, he jokingly said that he must be getting old if they were putting his name on a rink.
In true Yzerman fashion, when I mentioned it wasn’t an age thing but an accomplishments thing, he said, "I haven’t done anything. Our team has. I’m just one of many good players."
Yzerman then told me that he didn’t have any interest in coaching after he retired as a player. Instead, he wanted to run a team, to build an organization from the ground up.
Even back then, I had a feeling that Yzerman was looking beyond Detroit. And since he hung up his skates in 2006, he’s dedicated himself to becoming one of hockey’s top executives.
Detroit played a key role in Yzerman’s early development in management, and he still has all the Wings’ top brass on speed dial. But he’s always been an independent guy, so maybe the Wings are his past and the Lightning his future.
Look, I think Yzerman enjoys coming back to Detroit because it’s a hockey oasis for him. Red Wings fans don’t care anything about Tampa Bay or even Team Canada.
In Detroit, Yzerman is just a legendary hockey player.