The 2001-02 edition of the Detroit Red Wings was nothing short of legendary. With several future Hall-of-Famers led by the winningest NHL head coach, they'd win the President's Trophy as the NHL's top regular season team and would go on to eventually win their 10th Stanley Cup title in June over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Among the many milestones that were achieved that year was longtime captain Steve Yzerman picking up his 1,000th career assist on January 20, 2002 against the Ottawa Senators. He assisted on the game-winning overtime goal by Mathieu Dandenault, giving Detroit the two points with a 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.
The play had to be reviewed because the back of the net had briefly been lifted off the ice, but it stood. Afterwards, he remained his typical humble self, and credited his teammates for helping him pick up what he referred to as not really a “great achievement”.
“I look at it that I've played a long time on a good team with a lot of good players and it's slowly added up,” Yzerman said following the game, “so I don't really look at it as a real great achievement.”
He also credited forward Igor Larionov, nicknamed “The Professor”, for making the play possible.
“It was nice the fact that it was an overtime goal. But it wasn't a classic play on my part,” Yzerman said. “I just chipped it out of the corner. Igor made the play.”
“I'm just glad to get it out of the way and go on,” he continued. “It's been a couple games now and I've been looking to pass when I should have been shooting. I'm happy it's over and done with. You'd like to make a great play on a milestone, but it doesn't usually work out that way.”
The milestone meant that Yzerman was then the ninth player in NHL history to pick up 1,000 career assists. Talk about exclusive company!