Winter Classic Alumni Game 2013: 5 Reasons Steve Yzerman Must Play

Isaac SmithAnalyst IMarch 8, 2012

Winter Classic Alumni Game 2013: 5 Reasons Steve Yzerman Must Play

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    The 2013 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs will be held at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2013.

    The Alumni Game usually held with the Winter Classic a day or two before, will be held at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

    As far as alumni are concerned, Detroit and Toronto both boost two of the top five most alumni-rich franchises in NHL history so there are a lot of alumni that the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will likely be a lot of conversation between the two teams and their alumni in regards to playing in the Alumni Game.

    So where would I start if I were a Detroit fan, wanting to do a "fantasy draft" of Red Wings to play in this alumni game?

    Well, Steve Yzerman sounds like a good place to start, but apparently, Yzerman has no plans to play in the Alumni Game "at this time."

    Well, I'm sure that no upfront won't be enough to thwart current and ex-players as well as management from lobbying Yzerman to play.

    Here are five reasons they might consider using to get Yzerman to play.

1. Face of the Franchise

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    Yzerman was the face of the Red Wings franchise for 23 seasons, and while his playing days are done, and he is the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yzerman is still respected as the most iconic Detroit hockey player possibly ever.

    Yzerman played over 1,500 games in a Detroit uniform, amassing 692 goals, 1,755 points, over 200 power-play goals, and almost 100 game-winning goals.

    He has three Stanley Cups as a player (as well as one in 2008 in a management role), a Conn Smythe Trophy and three Art Ross trophies.

    Yzerman put the "hockey" back into "Hockey Town" and he resurrected the franchise when the Red Wings were affectionately known as the "Dead Wings."

2. A Chance to Lace 'Em Up Again

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    Yzerman only played over 61 games once over his final five seasons as a Red Wing.

    He played only 16 games in 2002-03 due to offseason knee surgery, and he never really had the same scoring punch that he did in the 1990s. It was no surprise then when Yzerman finally decided to call it quits in July of 2006.

    But for all of the general manager tasks that Yzerman does, there will always be the "player" part of Yzerman.

    This Alumni Game would be a chance for Yzerman to put on the Winged Wheel uniform one more time and just get back in the rink.

    Yzerman has nothing to prove; if you saw his statistics that I laid out on the previous page, you will agree with me.

    But getting outdoors and playing (not watching) hockey with a bunch of old teammates in front of one of the largest crowds to ever watch an NHL game has to appeal to Yzerman at some level.

3. The Teammates

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    There's something about the game of hockey that brings everyone that plays it closer together.

    This bond is especially obvious if you take a look at the days leading up to and following the trade deadline.

    Players sign contracts with "no trade" clauses and "no movement" clauses so they can remain on the same team and not worry about that kind of pressure.

    But when it comes down to it, there's just something about playing the fastest sport on ice with a bunch of teammates that you get to know and stick up for in scrums and in media post-game press conferences.

    Through Yzerman's more than 1,500 games as a Red Wing, he became very good friends with a lot of players, most of whom will likely be asked to play in the alumni game.

    Yzerman should come out and play with the likes of Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Joe Kocur, Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov and Larry Murphy (assuming they all come out) as the "Captain" makes them a better team when he's playing.

4. He Would Be the Best Player Playing

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    With all due respect to Mats Sundin and Doug Gilmour of the Maple Leafs, as well as fellow former Red Wings teammate, Sergei Fedorov, Yzerman would be the best all-time player playing in the Alumni Game.

    Now whether or not Yzerman still has the talent level to compete having been away from the game since 2005-06 is another story completely.

    Yzerman averaged 1.16 points per game in his career as a Red Wing, whereas Sundin averaged 1.00 points per game, Gilmour had 0.96 and Fedorov had 0.94.

    Yzerman did play in almost 200 more games than Sundin, but Yzerman had over 400 more points than Sundin.

5. The Toronto Maple Leafs Are a Former Division Rival

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    Steve Yzerman put up 113 points in 82 games against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    His Red Wings also developed a rivalry with the Maple Leafs up until 1998 when the Maple Leafs moved divisions, as they were in the Norris Division from the time Yzerman started in 1983.

    Yzerman had a chance to play against most of the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni, and his 113 points are his second-most against any team in the NHL right after his 119 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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