Hall mark for Stevie Y

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

A decade or so after the buzz, a plaque bearing Steve Yzerman's name will finally be affixed to a Scotiabank Place wall. Just not over a stall in the Senators dressing room, as might have once been the case.

"My feeling on it at that stage was I'd only play a couple of more years," Yzerman recalled yesterday of the trade rumours that had him coming to his hometown prior to the 1996-97 season. "I'd already been through the stage the Senators were at, at that time, and that was the thing that disturbed me a little. I wanted to either stay in Detroit and play for a contender, or if not go to another team that had a chance to win.

"Without looking at it any deeper, I think it was a case of the organization trying to get over the hump and exploring all different possibilities."

Yzerman, who will be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame tomorrow, played another nine seasons, completing his 22-year NHL career with one team.

Ironically, that 1996-97 edition of the Red Wings went on to end a 41-year franchise drought by winning the Cup, and it was a transformed Yzerman who led the way.

"It's obvious he was a great talent and very gifted offensively," said Senators GM Bryan Murray, who coached Yzerman for a four-season span that ended in 1993.

"He made a commitment to the team that forced him to give up some offence. And he became one of the great captains, one of the great leaders and one of the best two-way players in the game."

Indeed, Yzerman's numbers dropped significantly. In 1988-89 he had 65 goals and 90 assists. Murray's last year in Detroit would also be Yzerman's last 100-point campaign. In '96-97, the first of three championship mug-lifting seasons for Yzerman, he had 22 goals and 63 assists.

"We asked him to share some power-play time and to help out in his own end more," said Murray. "He became outstanding at that. It cost him some goals, but his recognition came in Cup wins."

And a legacy as one of the greatest players the NHL has known. Yzerman retired at the end of the 2005-06 season, finishing with 692 goals and 1,063 assists in 1,514 games. He also had 70 goals and 115 assists in 196 playoff games.

Now the vice-president of the Red Wings, he is kicking off the induction circuit. Along with joining the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame this week, Yzerman -- who was born in Cranbrook, B.C. then moved to Nepean at age nine -- just learned he is also being inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. He's a lock, of course, for the Hockey Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in a couple of years.

"It's a real nice honour," Yzerman said of the recognition he's getting in the nation's capital. "For the most part, I grew up in Ottawa, I played the bulk of my hockey in Ottawa, my wife's family and my family is still there ... it's a tremendous honour for me."

WINGS FACE SENATORS

Yzerman is looking forward to Saturday's game against the Senators as a chance to see how his Red Wings stack up against "one of the better offensive teams and what I feel is the best defensive team" in the Eastern Conference.

While he's interested in becoming a GM himself one day, he notes that the current management team does an excellent job and is young.

"My first priority, I'd love to remain with the Detroit Red Wings my entire career in hockey," said Yzerman. "But I would stop short of saying I wouldn't consider an opportunity in the right place that would interest me. I'd want to be careful though ... if I do make a change I would only want to do it one time."


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