Steve Yzerman holds the record as the longest-serving captain of a single NHL team.
He wore the ”C” on his chest for 19 seasons and 1,303 games with the Detroit Red Wings, and he’s widely considered to be one of the greatest players and leaders in NHL history.
With that in mind, it wasn’t surprising that Yzerman would quickly get into management after retiring. Although it didn’t happen with the Detroit Red Wings at first, he has proven to be a great team-builder and general manager.
Yzerman was named the Red Wings’ team vice president in 2006, and a couple of years later, he expressed his desire to run a team. However, the Red Wings extended their contracts with then-general manager Ken Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill.
So, Yzerman accepted the general manager job with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning progressed to the Eastern Conference Finals in Yzerman’s first year as general manager but would then miss the playoffs in each of the next two seasons.
Yzerman, however, would draft Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brayden Point, and Ondrej Palat, marking the beginning of a powerful Lightning era. Yzerman led the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015 and was awarded the NHL General Manager of the Year after his team set a new franchise record with 50 wins and 108 points during the regular season.
Today, he is back with the Detroit Red Wings as a general manager, and there’s no doubt in the world of hockey that Yzerman is one of the best in the business, just like he was playing the game.
Yzerman knows what to say and when to say it, and it has helped the Lightning massively over the years.
When former Lightning player Nate Thompson guested on the Empty Netters Podcast, he shared an awesome story about Yzerman’s hilarious chirp to a player right after the team was destroyed by the Boston Bruins in a game that ended 8-1.
“We played a game in Boston that year, and Teddy Purcell and I were roommates on the road,” Thompson said.
“We just got f**king smoked by Boston, 8-1. I’m walking back with Teddy, and we’re kind of like the last ones on the bus. And Stevie Y is off to the side. He kind of pulls both of us over and he goes, ’Hey, I know we just lost 8-1. But Teddy, don’t ever wear that f**king tie again.”
It was tough for Nate Thompson to keep a straight face, but on the other hand, his team had just lost 8-1.
“Teddy’s trying not to laugh too. And he kind of does this half smile. And it was just like the timing of it, cause he knew we just got f**cking beaten.”
It speaks volumes about what a great leader Yzerman is because he knew the boys needed a ’pick me up.’
“We got pumped, but he knew how good we were, and he was like, boys, whatever. We got f**king smoked, big deal.”