It’s finally happening! Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman is spurning that lame expansion team in Seattle, and he’s ignoring lost franchises like the Rangers, and—of course—he kicked the Tampa Bay Chokemeisters to the curb, all so he could come home to Detroit. Yes, that thing that I knew in my heart of hearts was happening ever since Yzerman stepped down as Lightning GM in September has come to pass. He’ll be the next Red Wings GM, while current longtime GM Ken Holland likely steps into an advisory role.
*for the rest of this blog, imagine me writing with a huge grin on my face*
Yzerman’s return comes at a hugely important inflection point in the team’s history. They’ve been bad for several years now, and have missed the playoffs for the last three. That’s three more years than the Red Wings are ever supposed to be out of the postseason, but the team was at least fun to watch in intermittent bursts this season. They do have actual young talent, most prominently in the form of Dylan Larkin, who led the team with 32 goals and 41 assists, and to a lesser extent other young promising players like Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi, all of whom scored at least 20 goals this year. On defense, 21-year-olds Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski were both solid when they got to play. And further down the line there are potential key players in draft picks Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno.
But with the exception of Larkin, all of these players would be much more ideal as depth guys on a contender, rather than as top-liners on a lottery team, and that’s where this Hall of Famer comes in:
Yzerman had a remarkable run from 2010 to 2018 as Tampa GM, picking up future MVP candidates in rounds where future MVP candidates are not supposed to be, and finding important contributors even later than that. I’ll spare you that big list of mindblowing decisions—Nikita Kucherov in the late second round! Brayden Point in the third!—and just say that it’s fascinating how, of the only two teams in NHL history to have won 62 games, one had Yzerman as a captain, and the other was basically built by him. If the Lightning had competed in the playoffs this year instead of electing to take their summer vacation early, I’m sure they would have been an all-time great team.
But Tampa is old news! And so is Ken Holland! This afternoon, the Wings will announce Yzerman as their new GM, and it will literally be the happiest Detroit hockey fans have been since, minimum, that Game 7 win over Anaheim back in 2013. The Red Wings faithful have begged, and they have received. And now they can go back to craving that trophy they’ve coveted for 10 long years—another goddamn Stanley Cup. No pressure, Stevie.