When it comes to Detroit sports legends, former Detroit Red Wings center Steve Yzerman is right near the top of the list. During his 22 years with the Wings, Yzerman scored 692 goals and dished out 1,063 assists while captaining his team to three Stanley Cups (1997,1998, and 2002).
But did you know that Yzerman almost was not a part of those teams?
That’s right, according to a piece published in 2015 by Grantland, the Red Wings nearly traded Yzerman to the Ottawa Senators in a deal that would have sent Senators center Alexi Yashin to Hockeytown.
Today, Steve Yzerman is a Red Wings legend, and the idea of him ever taking the ice in any other team’s uniform seems unimaginable. But as we’ve covered before, there was a time when Yzerman seemed to have worn out his welcome in Detroit. He was a great player, but he just wasn’t a winner, the thinking went, and it was time for the franchise to turn the page and move on. In 1995, the Red Wings almost did just that.
They found a willing trade partner in Yzerman’s hometown team, the Ottawa Senators. The deal would have reportedly centered around young center Alexei Yashin, and while they’d no doubt deny it now, plenty of Red Wing fans thought it sounded like a fantastic idea. One rumor at the time said the deal was actually agreed to, and fell apart only when Detroit ownership stepped in at the last minute and nixed it.
Yzerman went on to captain the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups, while Yashin’s endless holdouts eventually made him one of the most hated players in Senators history. (Luckily for Ottawa, they eventually found a sucker to take him off their hands.) Today, the idea that a team would want to address a of a winning culture by trading Steve Yzerman for Alexei Yashin seems almost too ridiculous to comprehend. But at one point, Detroit came very close to doing exactly that.
Come on, Red Wings. If you have a choice between the Russian embroiled in a contract dispute and the good North American boy, you’d be crazy to choose the Russian!
Whew, it sure sounds like the Red Wings dodged a bullet at the last second and we are sure happy that they did!