Many believe this is Steve Yzerman's swansong season.
The Red Wings captain will be 41 years old next month, he's suffered through serious knee and eye injuries and hasn't looked like the same Stevie Y fans have followed through 21 NHL campaigns. Until recently.
Since the Olympic break, Yzerman has racked up 16 points in 18 games -- nearly doubling his offensive output -- including a goal last night against the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome.
Looking more like his old self than an old man, maybe Yzerman's pro demise has been widely oversold.
"It's great to see him contributing offensively like he has," said fellow elder statesman Chris Chelios yesterday. "I know everybody's pulling for him. It might just get in his head and keep him interested for next year, too.
"That's what I'm hoping, anyway."
Yzerman's one-year deal, inked before the lost season, expires at the end of the year and Wings GM Ken Holland says there has been no talk of an extension. At least not yet.
"When the year is over, we'll sit down," said Holland.
After missing most of training camp and the pre-season with a serious groin injury, Yzerman's start was rocky. When he returned to the lineup, his role was reduced -- and with it, his ice time. Lately, though, both have been on the rise along with his point total.
"The biggest thing is he's healthy," said Holland. "The Olympic break ... he got fully healthy and he's been tremendous for us.
"He looks like he's 30 years old right now."