Drafted fourth overall in 1983, Steve Yzerman led owner Mike Ilitch's Red Wings out of the wretched Dead Things era to three Stanley Cups while restoring Detroit's reputation as Hockeytown. At age 18, he made an immediate impact by becoming the youngest All-Star. Yzerman led all NHL rookies in assists (48) and points (87) and was second in goals (39) during the 1983-84 season.
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At the tender age of 21, Yzerman was named Detroit's captain by coach Jacques Demers -- the youngest player to ever receive that honor.
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Yzerman quickly accumulated honors, including the first of his 10 All-Star Game appearances and the 1989 Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL's top player. The slick center scored 155 points that season, including 65 goals, his 50th coming in his 55th game, the quickest to that total in franchise history. Yzerman topped 100 points each season from 1987 to 1993.
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During the strike-shortened 1994-95 season, the Red Wings advanced to their first Stanley Cup final in 29 years. Alas, New Jersey proved too strong for Detroit. Here, Yzerman jostles with Devils forward Neil Broten in Game 3 of New Jersey's four-game sweep.
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A still-rising power, the Red Wings stormed through the 1997 playoffs, beating bitter rival Colorado in seven games in the Western Conference finals. Yzerman scored 20 points in 18 postseason games.
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Yzerman and the Wings collided with the physical Philadelphia Flyers in the '97 Stanley Cup final. Here, Yzerman tangles with defenseman Kjell Samuelsson. The Captain sparked Detroit's furious sweep of Philadelphia with a game-winning slapshot in Game 1.
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Despite a missing tooth, Yzerman was all smiles as he celebrated the Stanley Cup's return to Detroit after 42 years.
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The Captain could give as good as he got. Taking on Washington in the 1998 Stanley Cup final, Yzerman endured a "face wash" in Game 1, but would not back down, as Capitals defender Phil Housley discovered.
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The Red Wings' sweep of the Capitals in the 1998 Stanley Cup final gave them back-to-back championships. Yzerman led all players in scoring during the playoffs with 24 points in 22 games. He scored two goals in Game 2 of the finals and was later awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
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A five-game triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002 gave the Red Wings their third Stanley Cup in six years and the ninth in the legendary career of coach Scotty Bowman (front row, third from left).
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Honoring the Captain
Not many players got the better of Steve Yzerman in the face-off circle during his 22-year career. Here the Captain and Capitals center Brian Sutherby keep their eyes on the prize during a 2003 regular-season game.
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Yzerman left the ice for the final time on May 1, 2006, after the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs by Edmonton. He departed as the NHL's longest-serving captain, having posted 692 goals, 1,063 assists, 1,755 points, the Selke Trophy (in 2000) as top defensive forward, and the assurance of a place in the Hall of Fame as well as the hearts of Detroit's fans forever.
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