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Yzerman won’t play in the 2013 Winter Classic alumni game

Feb 9, 2012, 5:43 PM EDT

Steve Yzerman AP

Shortly after the NHL awarded the 2013 Winter Classic to Detroit, Eric Lacy of the Detroit News reached out to franchise legend Steve Yzerman about potential participation in the alumni game.

Warning: If you’re a diehard Wings fan, you might want to stop reading.

“It will be a fantastic event with two great organizations at a storied venue,” Yzerman said via e-mail. “The perfect location and matchup, this is wonderful for the NHL.

“At this time I don’t plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the Classic on TV.”

It’s a stunning — and immediate — decision from arguably the greatest player in franchise history. Yzerman is one of the most popular athletes in Detroit sports history and, after wearing the “C” for over 1300 games, is often referred to simply as “The Captain.”

He led the Wings to five Presidents Trophies and three Stanley Cups, winning the Conn Smythe trophy in 1998.

The news of Yzerman’s decline (Note: Yzerman didn’t offer a reason for not playing) will come as a disappointment not just to Detroit fans, but former teammates and front office executives as well. General manager Ken Holland is on record saying he hoped to get Yzerman to play while ex-Wing Kris Draper said he was “working hard” on having Yzerman suit up.

That said, not everybody turned down the alumni game. Former Toronto and Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph said he wanted in…but only as a Leaf.

“I heard about it, I thought about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do that,’ ” Joseph told NHL.com. “There was no question in my mind. I’d play for Toronto, of course.”

Brian Leetch, who played in the 2011 Winter Classic alumni game with the Bruins and the 2012 edition with the New York Rangers, also said he’d be willing to play — Leetch played 15 games with the Leafs at the tail end of the 2003-04 season.

“I was thinking about that when they announced it. I said to myself, ‘There are so many Toronto alumni, I don’t know if I’m going to make the cut on that one, but I’ll certainly throw my name in the hat if they need it,'” Leetch said. “It’s been fun. I got to play in Fenway and then this past year’s, so if I got to sneak into another one it’d be great.

“You never know. I’d say yes if they asked me.”

  1. 0ffsides - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    The Captain played when it mattered even on one leg, respect the decision.

    • fishtacos4me - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      I am not surprised he refuses to play. He always ran away from contact when he played so who would really expect him to take to the ice again?

      • govtminion - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        What on earth are you talking about?

      • fishtacos4me - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Yzerman is a pansy…always has been. here is his chance to show is character and what does he do? He craps all over the fans that claim he is a hockey god.

  2. bensawesomeness - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    Although i respect his decision either way, we still have a year to get him to change his mind :)

  3. yettyskills - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    Leetch as a Leaf? What a joke, and Cujo can play for the Leafs, its not like he did anything since having a few great playoffs when he was in St.Louis.
    And the Captain can do whatever he wants

  4. disp350 - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Its 11 months away. Give him time to think about what he will be missing and I bet there is a good chance he will reconsider

  5. sasquash20 - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    The Flyers alumni game was awesome. So I hope the Redwings fans get to see there Captain out there for this.

    • fishtacos4me - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      “their”…not “there”.

      You are clearly from Philly….

  6. kibbee2545 - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    Too bad for Detroit fans

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