During a recent speech at the West Michigan Sports Commission, Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman was touching upon a number of subjects.
Yes, he was talking about playoffs.
Would Yzerman like for the Red Wings to finish the 2023-24 NHL season with a berth in the Stanley Cup tournament?
Certainly he would.
Does he view it as the be-all and end-all in terms of determining whether the campaign has proven to be a successful one?
In Grand Rapids today. @DetroitRedWings Exec VP & GM Steve Yzerman was guest speaker for @westmisports annual luncheon. Big turnout to see and hear the Hall of Fame. #Hockey is coming! pic.twitter.com/AICxcrwnck
— Dave LewAllen (@tvnewzguy) September 6, 2023
“We would love to make the playoffs (this season),” Yzerman said. “But is it playoffs-or-bust? Internally, no.”
“Our goal isn’t just to make the playoffs,” Yzerman said during the event in Grand Rapids, at which he was the keynote speaker. Our goal is to build a championship team, a team that can compete for a championship.”
There’s definitely a playoff buzz about the Red Wings. Star with offseason deals bringing in two-time 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat and veteran defenseman Jeff Petry. Couple those moves with the team’s free-agent additions. Forwards JT Comphere, Christian Fischer and Daniel Sprong were signing contracts. So were defensemen Justin Holl and Shayne Gostisbehere and goalies James Reimer and Alex Lyon.
It’s creating cause for optimism that this could be the season that Detroit’s seven-year postseason drought is coming to a conclusion. However, ending the playoff skid wasn’t the driving force behind this overhauling of the roster.
“The moves we’re making along the way aren’t necessarily designed toward, ‘Oh my god, we gotta make the playoffs this year, or playoffs-or-bust,'” Yzerman explained. “We’re trying to build a nucleus of a young team that’s going to be together for a long time that can compete in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup, and we’re sticking with that path.”
Red Wings Yzerman Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings
Probably for the first time since Yzerman was returning to Detroit to run the hockey operations of the franchise, there was concern from the faithful that perhaps the so-called Yzerplan was going in the wrong direction. There was consternation about some of his decisions from the usually loyal fanbase.
Make no mistake, Yzerman completely understands the frustration and angst of long-suffering Red Wings fans. In his role as GM of a rebuilding franchise, he can’t and won’t allow those feelings to impact how he goes about his work, though.
In case you were wondering, @DetroitRedWings GM Steve Yzerman is still a very popular man in Michigan. He’s the keynote speaker at the @westmisports annual luncheon. @WOODTV pic.twitter.com/0qDOR2hGii
— Jack Doles (@jackdoles) September 6, 2023
He made it clear from the day he arrived in Detroit in 2019. Yzerman’s objective isn’t to build the Red Wings into a bubble team that might or might not make the playoffs. His goal is to return the franchise to the glory days. Back then, the Stanley Cup was a realistic objective at the outset of every season.
“We’ve been through the process” Yzerman said. “Our fanbase, the sports fans in Detroit, have seen it all. It’s understandable that they would want to see some success at some point. They want to see their teams win.
“I don’t feel any extra pressure. I was hired to do a job and I understand the job and the scrutiny that comes with it. But it doesn’t change what you have to do or what needs to be done.”