This week’s spot goes to Steve Yzerman, whose No. 19 banner — with the captain’s “C” in the upper right-hand corner — floats in the rafters of Little Caesars Arena, the home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.
“Seriously? Yet another Red Wings player? Come on, Jared,” you groan. Yeah, they are on this list quite often … but it’s justifiable. From the ‘90s to the late 2000s, the Wings were a powerhouse in the NHL that had an abundance of extremely talented players on their roster. There was probably something in the water of the Detroit River that bordered the Wings’ former home, the Joe Louis Arena.
“Stevie Y” wore the iconic jersey with the winged wheel crest for his entire 22-year career in the world’s most prestigious hockey league. He captained Detroit for two decades, being handed the role in the 1986-87 season as a 21-year-old. He won the Stanley Cup three times (1997, 1998 and 2002), played over 1500 games and cracked the NHL’s list of the top 10 all-time goal leaders, with 692. In the 1988-89 season, he scored an astounding 65 goals in 80 games, a statistic seemingly impossible for the NHL today.
Yzerman’s legacy continued well after his 2006 retirement. In 2010, he became the general manager (GM) of the fledgling Tampa Bay Lightning, gradually turning the franchise into a Stanley Cup contender. Although he resigned from the role in 2018, he returned to Detroit the following year to become the vice president and GM of the team that he led for years.
The 2009 Hall of Famer will forever be remembered as the modern face of the Red Wings, and a player who was in love with the game of hockey and the city he called home.