Steve Yzerman tried to downplay his first trip into Hockey Town as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Red Wings ensured that his first visit back did not go unnoticed.
After spending 22 years with the Red Wings as a player and another four in the front office – winning three Stanley Cups as the team captain and another while in a managerial role – a video tribute was played for Yzerman during the first television timeout.
A montage of clips from his playing days was displayed on the video board, including Yzerman hoisting the Stanley Cup followed by a "Welcome Back'' message that had the Joe Louis Arena crowd roaring in appreciation.
That was followed by a shot of Yzerman standing at the Zamboni entrance as he acknowledged the crowd with a wave as he received a standing ovation, while chants of "Stevie, Stevie'' broke out from fans.
"That was very nice, I appreciated it very much,'' Yzerman said. "It was short and sweet and let's get back to the game.''
Back in the lineup
RW Steve Downie returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Downie did not play the third period last week against Toronto and had skated only once since.
But after getting looked at by a "specific'' doctor, according to head coach Guy Boucher, Downie was medically cleared to return and inserted back into the lineup. And though Boucher struggled with the decision to take Ryan Shannon out of the rotation, he said he never contemplated holding Downie out for another game.
"I had major problems (deciding) because we played three good games, and it changed 10 times and the forward coming out does not deserve to be taken out,'' Boucher said. "
Like most – if not all – young Swedish defensemen, Lightning D Victor Hedman idolized Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom growing up, and tried to model his game after the future Hall of Famer and seven-time Norris Trophy winner as the best defenseman in the league.
"I'm just very excited to play against him,'' said the 20-year-old Hedman, who has faced Lidstrom just one other time. "What's not to like? He just makes things look easy. He's so calm with the puck. He's always in the right position and has a great stick, big shot. He doesn't do anything special, he just does everything so well. I think that's what I look up to as well – simplify your game and do it better than the other guys. And I think he is at least one of the best two defenseman to ever play this game and is an example that I looked up to a lot.''
Forbes Magazine's annual report of NHL franchise values was released on Wednesday and Tampa Bay came in ranked 21st out of the 30 teams in the league. According to Forbes, the Lightning franchise is estimated to be worth $174 million, which is up 20 percent from last year's rankings.
The 20 percent increase is the second largest among NHL teams, with only Winnipeg – which moved from Atlanta this season – coming in a higher at a 21 percent increase in value. Despite the increase in value, however, the report states the Lightning had an operating loss of $8.5 million.
A team spokesperson said owner Jeff Vinik declined to comment on the report.
The Toronto Maple Leafs lead the list with an estimated value of $521 million.