In the 1980s, Steve Yzerman played hockey like he was delivering mail for the Pony Express. He rode hard, usually at full gallop, always with no fear for his safety.
Yzerman had the freedom to roar up ice because Gerard Gallant rode shotgun for him. And Gallant took that job seriously. Opponents who wanted to interfere with Yzerman’s work had to first deal with Gallant. The prickly winger had talent, averaging 37 goals per season from 1986-87 to 1989-90.
But he also understood that a key part of his job was making sure Stevie Y had the room he needed to be the best he could be.