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Red Wings GM Yzerman Building More Than Just a Team on the Ice

When Steve Yzerman started rebuilding the Red Wings, it wasn’t just about getting great players. It was about getting the right ones

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Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings GM

It wasn’t that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider won the Calder Trophy that stood out. It was what he said, and how the organization reacted, that said more than words could.

Since taking over in 2019, general manager Steve Yzerman stressed the need for time and patience in building from scratch. When given credit for building Tampa Bay, some critics point out that he started with Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos.

It’s true.

So it made the job more daunting with players who were not as proven and were still very young. But Yzerman was insistent on having that patience to build correctly.

“We’re going to do things a certain way,” Yzerman said when asked about how long the rebuild would take.

That way became known as the “Yzerplan” with fans and analysts. It kicked into high gear when he took Seider with the sixth overall pick in his first draft as Detroit’s general manager. It wasn’t the blockbuster pick at the time, but it certainly caught everyone’s attention.

But there was more to the pick than just selecting a good hockey player. It was about getting the right guys with the right make up that fit the “Yzerplan.”

Yzerman Choosing Seider Set the Tempo for the “Yzerplan”

Reading carefully what Seider talked about, he values the team and the organization above his own accolades. It can be seen as him saying the right things by the organization. But taking the long view throughout the season, there’s more to it.

DHN’s Bob Duff wrote about how Seider is already becoming an important voice in the locker room. At 21. Yzerman watched what it took in Detroit, the years of missing the playoffs followed by being oh-so-close only to be reminded how they were falling short.

He saw that it went beyond skill. It was a little bit of everything. Sacrifice. Team first. From Darren McCarty avenging the hit on Kris Draper to Yzerman himself demanding accountability of himself first in front of the entire locker room. There were personalities and make up that finally ended a 42-year drought and transformed Detroit into a model organization.

Slowly but surely, he’s putting the pieces in place to restore the glory.

Leadership and Team First

In the midst of Seider winning the organization’s first Calder Trophy in 53 years, the top brass including owner Chris Ilitch and Yzerman were in Tampa to surprise Seider prior to the award announcement. Beyond that, captain Dylan Larkin surprised him as well and sat along with him during the ceremony.

Larkin doesn’t have to do that. He had a brutal season in 2021 with a severe injury that took time to recover from and ended this past season injured after having an outstanding season. An easy offseason to recuperate would be understood.

Yet there he was–supporting his teammate and friend. Reinforcing the culture Yzerman is building player by player.

“Yeah, it was a really cool surprise, and also the whole organization flew them here,” Seider said “It’s really cool to see that not only your captain and teammates have your back but the whole organization.

I’m very happy Larks sat next to me. It was really cool to have him.”

Beyond that, there were tributes from the past legends–Dominik Hasek and Sergei Fedorov sending their well wishes. The latter of course sending the fanbase into an absolute tizzy seeing a coaching hopeful reach out.

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It was past and present uniting to honor Seider’s accomplishment. But his focus always went back to the organization.

“Sometimes it’s good to reflect on your personal goals,” Seider said.  “I think for us as the Detroit Red Wings, we want to build and want to push each other forward.”

So yes, Seider will enjoy the accolades. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the organization. Just as Yzerman stressed as a player in Detroit’s past glory, and is now constructing for the future.

Finding not just the great players, but the right ones. On and off the ice, that will once again bring Detroit back to glory.

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MICHAEL C ZACK

One word only: Class

TAV

This article is right on! Why do Seider Larking fit and AA did not? Character, class, team first, dedication to the team winning etc. there are more important things than just scoring or defending alone. In the playoffs everyone has skill, it is character and dedication to the team goals and needs that win.

This is the key so many seem to miss and it is confusing how. Yzerman is not bringing in some ?? FA OR coach to just make the playoffs (like Holland did with Kane). He is not giving up long term assets to win now. He is not picking players on skill alone. This team is 3 years out from being a contender at least and he is looking to improve as much as possible while sticking to the plan. This should be obvious and more important not an issue with the rebuild but to be supported. Would you rather focus on playoffs over the next couple years or focus on the long term plan and then be legit contenders for 10 years in a row? Should be a no brainer. Yet so many fans and even some analyst want to trade away 1st round picks for players that may help now but may not even be on the team in 4 years. The lack of patience is palpable in some cases. I know we want to see the team better fast but that is not the way. I’ll be happy with whatever he can get done to take positive steps while sticking to the plan. If they miss the playoffs next year then so be it.

Goal is not to make the playoffs as quick as possible or even improve as fast as possible. Goal is to build the team culture that leads to long term success and multiple runs at getting cups. Making the playoffs is not more important than getting to that level the right way. If you get there great, and if not, oh well just stay focused on the goal. Keep loading up the prospect pool with players that fit the mold and making improvements where/how you can without hurting the overall long term goal. The only goal short term is the team gets better on ice and off. That is a slow methodical process and that is not going to bring quick big changes.

Bill

I could not agree with you more, well said.

TAV

Thanks!

Mark W

The cap is dictating the methods required to build a good team. No cap? Then money and power win the rare top line players.

Instead. Identifying and drafting NHL potential as young as possible wherever the game has become more important than ever. Forcing younger and younger draft picks.

The more youthful the draft, the longer it takes to build an NHL ready team. That is the main reason we must remain patient.

After the cap and pre-Yzerman, the Wings were slow to act on the need to change their methods and they failed to reload 1 for 1. It wasn’t long before they needed more players than they could afford. They then hit bottom.

Yzerman came in familiar with and successful under the cap in Tampa building frugally as the cap dictated and drafting younger and smarter. It took years in Tampa and it will take years here but he’s the right guys for the job. That is something to remember when watching the Wings develop and grasping for patience.

TAV

You are correct things changed dramatically after the cap. If you had unlimited budget and were a go to destination then it was much easier to build a great team and not rely on your pipeline. Now you have to fill the pipeline to the brim before starting to get aggressive and go for it or you run out of bullets fast. Cap is just another factor that makes Yzerman’s way the way even if it takes a while to bear fruit. Good point.

Steve B

I’m with this. Been on the same page since 2019 and not moving an inch from the plan. There are still things to be excited about short term. Just look at the buzz that Mo and Raymond created this year. We’ve got some more of that to come from them both and others coming in. There are still short term buzzes to be had here while we wait for this thing to mature. So I’m focussing on the small victories such as the pure joy I have from just watching Mo and Raymond playing high grade hockey in the early years. Seider is going to be a huge huge elite player, he’s already this good at 21, he’s got years more development time to go! Thats scarey good to me. We were all in on the ground floor, watching a future elite player take his first steps. Thats a huge privaledge, as is being in on the ground floor of a Red Wings rebuild with Stevie at the wheel.. I always wondered what it would have been like to see Yzerman’s first year in the league and bitterly regretted never having seen it, but I’ve seen Seider’s first year and thats the next best thing.. I believe Mo is going to be that huge to Detroit. Hopefully some more of these young guys will come in and take the buzz higher. So just focussing on stuff like that while we get the dirty stuff done. When we’re done with the losing, this thing is going to be huge, and for a long time. People are going to get bored of us winning like they are with Tampa now and I’m going to love it.

Mark W

Congrats to Mo and the Wings. Make it a Hall of Fame career !

Noticed that coach Fedorov sent his well wishes.

Robert Alpiner

For a change, I have nothing to add to the other postings stating the culture/organization is more important than any one player. Well stated, fellow posters.

Gord Cheswick

I believe this article is ‘on the button’. But it has to be, because even with all the possibilities for the DRW in the last few drafts – they cannot get that big #1 pick that is needed to produce a superstar. So SY looks at the list and has to have the skill to pick the right guy @ #6 or #4 or #8. He does that very well!
So, he continues on this year. But I believe a slight detour is in order. A trade of the #8 will not put the Yzerplan off its course – in fact, it would accelerate it!
I am pushing for a trade with Winnipeg: our #8 and #72 for Winnipeg’s #14 and #30. We get a very good center – then a very good D-man.
Com’on Stevie – they would love that deal!!

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