Friday, August 05, 2005
Captain my Captain...
I just want to take a moment to commemorate the best captain of all time. No, I'm not talking about sailing. And I'm not quoting from any poem or movie. I'm talking about Steve Yzerman, who is the epitome of a leader. Here's a guy (a hockey player, for those that might not recognize him) who goes from being a pure scorer - and when I say pure scorer, you need to think of Gretzky & Lemieux - to being a defensive stalwart. Here's a guy that did the ultimate in sacrificing his own goals and ambitions (personal statistics) for the betterment of the team (and winning 3 Stanley Cups). This is a guy who is quiet, yet willing to speak up when necessary. A guy who was willing to fight through the pain (back problems, eye problems and more knee surgeries than you can imagine) to stick around long enough to be the longest serving captain (I believe) in any sport, all time.
Now, you can say that this is just sports. You can say that this is just hockey (but if you do, I might be tempted to hunt you down...). But I honestly believe that Steve Yzerman - who will be in the Hall of Fame the minute the door shuts on his final shift with the Red Wings - embodies all of the characteristics that make a captain a captain, that make a leader a true leader.
Of course, I don't know him personally. I could come to find out that he's an alcoholic, abusive, womanizer, who's been embezziling little old ladies out of their pension money. I could, but I doubt it. In this world of sports, things like that have a way of finding the light of day sooner than you'd think. And after 22 years in the NHL (yes, it still exists) to have the kind of reputation that Yzerman has, means that stuff like that just isn't true.
I'm not saying he's an angel. We've all got our faults. But if I'm to have a "hero"... if I'm to have someone to look up to in this world (besides someone who's been influential in my faith) I can tell you flat out, Steve Yzerman is the man! Even now, I'm almost getting misty eyed thinking that this will probably be his last season. Unlike Gretzky though, unlike other superstars in sports or music or whatever, there will be no "final tour". He'll quietly go about his business, and when the season is over (win, lose or whatever) he'll just let everyone know that was his las hurrah. He's not out for the accolades. He's a true leader.
So to everyone in this world, lamenting the fall of heroes from the American consciousness, lamenting the cheating, lying & genreral thugishness that so many athletes display nowadays. Let me just say that there are a few left. There are a few good guys left, who embody the right things, that you can truly learn from. And for at least one more year, you'll have the opportunity to see the best, be the best...