Take It From The Captain, Detroit: 'All Four Teams Will Get Back On Top'


It's not easy being a Detroit sports fan these days. It hasn't been for a while. 

Three of our four teams are rebuilding. The other is the punchline. 

We've seen four playoff appearances in the last five years, all of which ended in the first round, and one winning team in the last four years. No Big Four sports city has it worse right now than Detroit. 

But have faith, says Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. And who can we trust if not The Captain? There's a light on the horizon calling our teams home. Yzerman's seen it before. He's lived it before. He joined a Wings team in 1983 fresh off four straight last-place finishes. They wouldn't have a winning season for a few more years yet. But we all know where they went from there. 

And during that span, Yzerman watched the other local teams experience highs of their own. He even struck up a friendship with Barry Sanders, and remembers what it was like watching the Lions bring their loyal fanbase to life. 

"I came here in 1983, the Tigers won the World Series in ‘84. They’ve had their ups and downs, they’ve been in multiple World Series since then. They’re rebuilding again now. I’ve watched the Pistons win championships. The Red Wings, we go through our ups and downs. I’ve watched the Lions, and we’re all hoping for the Lions. I had some great, great years with Barry and when Wayne Fontes was coach, some exciting playoff times and seasons," Yzerman said Wednesday as he wrapped up another trying season for the Red Wings. 

There's frustration yet to come. Rebuilds take time; no one has stressed that more than Yzerman. The Wings are still two to three years away from any kind of playoff run, and the same feels true of the Pistons and the Tigers. The same always feels true of the Lions. 

But Yzerman's right. Eventually, the tides will turn. 

"It’s all cyclical, and we’re going to get back there one day," he said. "That’s what’s exciting about sports. I believe all four teams will get back on top at some point. We are in these situations now, we’re going to work our way through and get there."

It's a bit like the city we call home. It thrived, it fell, it bottomed out. And then Detroit began to claw its way back. Yzerman saw this rebirth as well, upon moving back to the area last year after 10 years in Tampa Bay. Even now, as another wound becomes another scar, Detroit is proving its resolve against COVID-19. 

Yzerman has faith in the city, and faith in its teams -- a good reminder that we should, too. 

"One of the most exciting things for me returning to Detroit last year was the energy and the growth and the development of the city downtown. My kids would always go down there and tell me about it, I’d read about it, and then last year going down there I thought it was a fantastic atmosphere," Yzerman said. "I really look forward to and enjoy going downtown.

"This is a major setback, which is probably a gross understatement, but Detroit will survive and we’ll come out of it. It’s a very resourceful state and a resourceful city. We will get through it and look back on this time and be stronger and better for it."