Steve Yzerman Press Conference: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Steve Yzerman, General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings

Getty Images Steve Yzerman, General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, along with head coach Derek Lalonde, spoke to the media on April 19, 2024. It was not a happy event.

Despite a thrilling final week of play, where the Red Wings pushed to make the playoffs as a Wild Card, the Wings once again failed to make the NHL playoffs.

Here are five fast facts you need to know about what Yzerman told the media and the beleaguered fanbase.

1. Same Old Red Wings

“It takes time, and I caution everyone, and temper the excitement, that this is going to take time,” Yzerman told the media. An odd — and perhaps, too telling — statement to make following yet another year with the team on the outside looking in.

Dylan Larkin has been to the playoffs once. The Red Wings have not been to the NHL playoffs in eight years, the longest drought in the storied franchise’s history. And, obviously, the Wings have not been to the NHL playoffs during the five full years of Yzerman’s leadership.

For Yzerman to continue to repeat the “it takes time” line does nothing to give hope to the weary Red Wings fanbase. The closest to a positive Yzerman offered was, “I hope we make the playoffs” in 2025.

Adding salt to the fans’ wounds, coach Derek Lalonde said essentially the same thing. “We’re not there yet,” he said.

2. The Red Wings Desperately Need Better Defense

Detroit finished a sorry 24th in goals against per game (3.33). Not surprisingly, lackluster defense may have been the most recurrent theme in Yzerman’s presser.

“It’s become a more offensive league and that’s entertaining and exciting, but the best teams in the league are near the top in goals-against and defensive play. Collectively as a team, we have to get better (at defense), that’s the No. 1 thing.”

Does this mean a big off-season move to bring in a top goaltender? That’s unlikely. “Everyone is looking for a goaltender,” Yzerman said. Expect him to keep Ville Husso and Alex Lyon in net, both of whom are still under contract.

3. Patrick Kane Out, Younger Players In

No playoffs, again, but at least there was improvement. The Wings finished with a record of 41-32-9. It was their most wins and most points since the 2015-16 season. They were helped by the great Patrick Kane. But don’t expect Kane to be back.

The day prior to the Yzerman press conference, Kane strongly suggested he was one and done with the Wings. “I’ll definitely have some memories to last me a lifetime,” Kane said.

As for his part, Yzerman talked about the difficulties he will have re-signing top young stars, including Lucas Raymond and Mo Seider. And he added, “Overall, I’m encouraged with the progress of the organization and the development of some of our younger players.”

Yzerman also talked up the Wings Grand Rapids team and the ongoing development of some of the younger players there.

4. Don’t Expect Derek Lalonde to Be Fired — Yet

Prior to Yzerman speaking to the media, coach Derek Lalonde spoke. If Yzerman was going to fire him, it’s very unlikely he would have had the coach go before the press. This may prove unwise on Yzerman’s part.

As Heavy wrote on March 30, 2024, “At the (hiring) announcement, in July 2022, Yzerman said ‘we feel (Lalonde) is ready to take the next step in his career as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.’ That feeling may cost Yzerman his job (emphasis added).”

At the press conference, all Yzerman would say regarding coaching changes was: “We as a management group have to make some good decisions.” But he quickly added, ‘And we’ll be sitting here next year. ‘”

5. Sorry, But This Job May Be the Wrong Fit for Yzerman

Yzerman is a Detroit Red Wings legend — as a player. And he was widely hailed as a top general manager with the Tampa Bay Lightning. But success in sports is measured in wins — and particularly, playoff wins. Five years in and zero playoff appearances for Yzerman’s Red Wings. Hard to imagine.

As Heavy wrote in March, “It’s not just that Yzerman has failed to produce a playoff team in his five years as general manager. Earlier in March, with the Wings ahead of the Capitals and the Islanders, and battling Tampa Bay for the first Wild Card spot, Yzerman declined to bring in any backup for the beleaguered team.”

Yzerman’s status as a Wings hero is secure. He has all the money he will need. And the Red Wings ownership appears ready to accept mediocrity. Steve Yzerman as general manager of the Red Wings seemed the perfect fit, but for whatever reason, it’s not working out. And it’s only going to get harder for the Wings in 2024-25.

As Yzerman said in his presser, “Probably going to have to get more than 91 points next year to get in. That’ll be a challenge for us.”

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