Ex-Nepean coach pays tribute to Stevie Y

LAURA CZEKAJ -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

As Hockeytown celebrated the career of Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman by retiring his number last night, his former coach watched on television, filled with pride at the hockey hero's accomplishments.

Former Nepean Raiders coach Mike Goddard wouldn't have missed seeing the No. 19 hoisted high to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

He did just that last night from the comfort of his Nepean home.

But it was with mixed feelings that Goddard witnessed his former player's illustrious career come to an end.

'PHENOMENAL'

"I would love to see him play again," said the 67-year-old. "The guy's a phenomenal hockey player. But he's done it all and there's not much left to do."

Goddard coached the young Yzerman from 1978 to 1981 and kept tabs on his player's skyrocketing career.

At age 10, Yzerman, a natural athlete, moved to Nepean from Kamloops, B.C., when his father got a government transfer.

He gave up his life with the Moose Pup Reps and put on the No. 14 to play minor hockey with the Raiders.

Goddard celebrated with Yzerman and his family after the Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002.

The former coach praised Yzerman, saying he has set a tremendous example for next-generation NHL players by behaving like a gentleman.

'AN AMAZING GUY'

"If you wanted a great example of how a hockey player should be, go and watch him and pay attention to the way Steve was. He's an amazing guy," he said.

It's a natural progression for Yzerman to move off the ice and into the Red Wings' front office as a senior vice-president, according to Goddard.

"I think for any hockey player it's a very difficult thing to get out of the game and he's only known hockey since he has been ... six or seven years old."


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