Steve Yzerman. also known as “Stevie Y” or simply “The Captain”, turned 55 on Saturday.
It seems like just yesterday the legendary Detroit Red Wings forward was still lacing up the skates in the NHL. In 22 seasons for Detroit, he tallied 1,755 points (692 goals, 1,063 assists) in just over 1,500 games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, the first year he was eligible.
In honor of Yzerman’s 55th birthday, here’s a look at the five best moments from his iconic career.
No. 5: 500th career goal
To continue with the theme of “five”, we start out with Yzerman’s 500th career goal. The year was 1996, and, by this point, Stevie Y was already in his 13th year in the league. In a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Yzerman became the newest member of the 500 goals club when he lifted a backhand over Avs goalie Patrick Roy. Yzerman would go on to score 692 NHL goals, putting him 10th on the all-time list.
No. 4: Winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1998
One year after Yzerman claimed his first Stanley Cup Trophy, he led the Red Wings to a repeat title. He won the 1998 Conn Smythe Award for the most valuable player throughout the playoffs, putting up 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 22 postseason games. It was the second of three championships for Yzerman, with the third coming several years later in 2002.
No. 3: Handing the Stanley Cup to Vladimir Konstantinov
In 1998, the same year he won the Conn Smythe, Yzerman gave us one of the classiest gestures in NHL history. After winning Detroit’s second Stanley Cup in a row, Yzerman skipped the captain’s traditional first lap around the ice and let his former teammate Vladimir Konstantinov be the first one to lift the trophy. Konstantinov was in a wheelchair after suffering a terrible injury in a car accident just days after the Red Wings won the 1997 Finals. To this day, it’s one of the most heartwarming moments in the history of the iconic trophy.
No. 2: Goal against St. Louis in the 1996 Western Conference semifinals
In 1996, Detroit was still chasing its first Stanley Cup in more than 40 years. After a solid regular season, the No. 1-seeded Red Wings came up against Wayne Gretzky and the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference semifinals. In a hard-fought series, Detroit got off to a 2-0 series lead before St. Louis battled back to tie force a game 7. In double overtime of the decisive game, Yzerman stole the puck from Gretzky and rifled home the winning goal from the blue line to send the Red Wings to the final.
No. 1: Lifting the 1997 Stanley Cup
Despite Detroit’s proud history as a sports town, the Red Wings were in the midst of a decades-long Stanley Cup drought when Yzerman arrived in 1983. After entering the playoffs as a No. 3 seed in 1997, the Red Wings took out St. Louis for the second year in a row in the first round before defeating Anaheim and Colorado to advance to the final. The team proceeded to sweep Philadelphia to capture the title and end the drought, with Yzerman doing the honors of lifting the trophy as captain.