I hesitate even to mention this, for fear that in my enthusiasm I would somehow cause the professional hockey season to be cancelled again. (That sound in the background is me spitting over my shoulder, in the superstitious hope of avoiding a repeat of last season.) Tyler and Laura (OGIC) surely share my feeling of being on pins and needles until we see an actual team hit the actual ice somewhere. Careful readers know that film critic Todd Babcock and I grew up together in the Great State of Michigan, and we are both now devoted fans of the Detroit Red Wings. If I may share my respect for one particular player, here is an article (Competitive drive still fuels Yzerman, September 30) by Aaron Rennie on Yahoo! Sports:
Mark Messier. Ron Francis. Al MacInnis. Scott Stevens. All are future Hall of Famers who decided to hang up their skates rather than make one last run at a Stanley Cup.You are a man of steel, Stevie Y. Thank you for giving the team another year. As for the rest of the team, the new NHL salary cap is designed to hurt teams like our dear Wings, and it has certainly made an impact on their roster. I will be sorry not to see Brett Hull and Darren McCarty in the red anymore. Even so, the names on that roster are plenty exciting, at least to me: stars like Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Chelios; grind players like Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Tomas Holmstrom; very exciting younger players like Pavel Datsyuk and Hendrik Zetterberg. I'm not sure yet what to think about the choice of Chris Osgood returning to the Detroit goal or Mike Babcock calling the shots at the bench, but I will be happy to watch it.
Not Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman.
A shoo-in for the Hall of Fame once he retires, Yzerman is back for the grind of a 22nd NHL season. The 5-11, 185-pound center often will be banging with defensemen six inches taller and 50 pounds heavier - a difficult task to begin with, but especially so when one considers the native of Ontario is 40 years old. Yzerman has nothing left to prove on the ice. He has collected a staggering 1,721 points - 678 goals and a franchise-record 1,043 assists - in his 1,453-game career and helped lead the Red Wings to Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998 and 2002. Yzerman also won a gold medal with Canada in the 2002 Olympics. Further, the last time he suited up for the Red Wings, in Game Five of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals against the Calgary Flames, he was hit in the face by the puck. He suffered a fractured orbital bone, underwent a lengthy surgery and missed Game Six as Detroit was eliminated.