‘The Big 50: Detroit Red Wings’ excerpt: 1997

The Free Press posted an excerpt from Helene St. James’ book, “Big 50: Detroit Red Wings” this morning, chronicling the Red Wings’ journey toward their first Stanley Cup in 1997:

Yzerman hoisted the Cup above his head, his gap-toothed smile a mix of relief and joy. He skated to the Wings bench so that owners Mike and Marian Ilitch could touch the Cup, then took his victory lap around the ice.

“I would have preferred to go with everybody in the beginning,” Yzerman said. “I wanted to go as one big group.”

Yzerman passed the Cup to Slava Fetisov, who held it up with Larionov. It was a very conscious, very telling choice on Yzerman’s part. It revealed the respect he felt was due to the two men who had done so much to liberate Russian hockey players from Soviet red tape.

“The last couple of days I thought who I wanted to give the Cup to,” Yzerman said. “I thought about Slava. He and Igor, what they stand for, are good examples for younger players…. All five Russian players were significant players and great guys.” Players took turns taking laps with the Cup. Bowman put on skates and took a lap too. “That was great,” Yzerman said. “I’ve seen it all. He doesn’t show emotion. He doesn’t let us get too close to him. For a few minutes there, he was one of us.”

In 1993, after the Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated the Wings in the first round, Yzerman cried in a back room at the Joe until 4:00 am. The next spring, when his season ended with a stunning first-round upset by the San Jose Sharks, Yzerman cried until 3:00 am. Finally, the Joe was a place for celebration. “He tried to get it for 14 years, and now he gets it,” teammate Tomas Holmstrom said. “I almost started crying.”


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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.