TAMPA – Steve Yzerman is one of the best ever to play in the NHL. The Hockey Hall of Famer played his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings, serving as their captain for nearly 20 seasons and winning three Stanley Cups.
The comparisons between he and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews come up quite a bit. But as far as the current Tampa Bay Lightning general manager is concerned, the Blackhawks captain wins those comparisons.
“The reality is that Jon is bigger, stronger … better. He just is,” Yzerman said during media-day events on Tuesday. “Over the course of my career, my play evolved and, through Scotty Bowman and the way he wanted our team to play, we became more defensive-minded players, more well-rounded players. Jonathan’s been that since Day 1 when he came into the league. He’s just a complete hockey player.”
Toews said it was special to hear the praise.
“I want to call him Mr. Yzerman, but I know he'd probably get mad at me if I said that,” Toews said. “But I think Steve is a very complimentary person and I don't think he'd say anything less than that. I just take that with a grain of salt. I think everyone here knows that's pretty much untrue, but it obviously means a lot to hear any sort of praise from a guy like that.”
Yzerman said he and Toews first met back in 2007, when Toews played for - and Yzerman was the general manager of - Team Canada. Yzerman said Toews, “fit in on the team, was one of our best players,” as Team Canada captured gold at the tournament.
Toews has garnered praise from many, be it fellow or current players or team brass. For the current No. 19 to get that kind of compliment from the former great No. 19 means a lot to Toews.
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“Over the years, I've gotten to know him a little bit – obviously a tremendous person off the ice since his career,” Toews said. “It's pretty special to hear something like that for sure.”