Osgood Believes Yzerman's Return To Red Wings Is "Inevitable"

It's only a matter of time.

Will Burchfield
October 19, 2018 - 11:21 am

© Luc Leclerc-USA TODAY Sports

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When Steve Yzerman stepped down as general manger of the Lightning prior to the start of this season, Red Wings fans immediately connected the dots. The Captain was coming home. 

Yzerman's former teammate Chris Osgood has drawn the same conclusion -- it's only a matter of time before Yzerman becomes GM of the Wings. 

"Me guessing? Yeah, I think it’s inevitable that at some point in time he will be here. It just has to be the right moment. That’s kind of how I feel," Osgood told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket, while clarifying he hasn't spoken with Yzerman since he changed roles with the Lightning. 

Yzerman, 53, is still working for the Lighting in an advisory capacity, but his contract expires after this season. He stepped down from his post in Tampa Bay primarily to spend more time with his family in Detroit.

The Red Wings handed current GM Ken Holland a two-year extension at the end of last season, so it remains to be seen whether or not he would step aside for Yzerman. He reportedly declined to do so when Yzerman worked in the team's front office several years ago. That prompted Yzerman's move to the Lightning. 

To Osgood, now a Red Wings analyst for Fox Sports Detroit, Yzerman's return is simply a matter of logistics. 

"I know people are over Ken Holland, but he’s really the guy that built the team back in the early 90’s. He was at every rink possible finding these players that played in the 90's and 2000's. He’s a loyal guy, he’s a Hall of Fame GM, and I think they’ll wait for the right time. Eventually I believe (Yzerman) will be here," he said. 

Yzerman presided over the Lightning for eight years and built them into one of the best teams in the NHL. They've been to the conference finals three of the past four years, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015. 

The Wings, meanwhile, have fallen into a much-needed rebuild. 

Holland, for his part, told the Hockey News this week that the Yzerman rumors don't affect him and that he's not worried about being displaced. 

"I’ve been a manager in the league for 23 years. I’ve won three Stanley Cups, five Presidents Trophies. I don’t look over my shoulder," he said. 

Maybe so, but Osgood's gut instinct is hard to dismiss. 

Other highlights from his interview with 97.1 The Ticket:

Should the Red Wings have started the rebuild sooner: "In hindsight, does Ken Holland think he should have? Probably. It was like a tug of war -- should I or shouldn’t I? He was going back and forth and they decided to give one more kick of the can and it didn’t work. Now we’re at where we're at. But I thought (he made) a lot of great moves last year to get a ton of drat picks. Their last two drafts have been really, really good. ... If they have another good draft this coming draft and make some trades at the deadline to get more picks, they’re going to have a stockpile of players. 

"Just going around the rinks with scouts, they’re saying, 'Wow, you guys have a lot of good young players now.' And that was never said before. ... Now they’re like, 'Wow, I like your young D.' Are they ready? Probably not, but they're going to be real good one day. There’s optimism and excitement about all these young guys coming, but it’s going to take time." 

Is it better for Filip Zadina to play in the AHL right now: He’s only 18, you forget. He’s ultra talented, he can score -- he had two goals in a game -- you can tell that. I've talked to scouts that are friends of mine and have watched him play. He's going to be good, but not right now. He has to mature in his game. 

"Things happen so much quicker in the NHL. He’s going to be a great player, don’t get me wrong, he’s probably going to be here sooner than later. But they’re going to wait until he's perfectly ready. This guy is capable of scoring 30 goals, without a doubt, but he hasn’t physically grown enough yet. Once he gets physically ready, mentally ready and learns how to play at the NHL level, he’ll be here and he'll be able to score. His goals aren’t going to come until he learns to do everything else the right away. 

Do the Red Wings have enough veterans to sustain their competitive culture: "I find it hilarious because last year everybody said, 'Zetterberg’s old, it’s time for him to go. All these guys are too old, they gotta go. Just play the young guys.' But (this is) what you get when you play all the young guys. (The Wings are winless through their first seven games.) We saw that. They need some of their veteran D back.

"Listen, Henrik Zetterberg, behind Yzerman, is the best leader the Red Wings have ever had. No doubt in my mind. The guy is unbelievable, on and off the ice, always says the right things, and his demeanor. Last year when they were struggling he was the guy that brought them out of those struggles, and now somebody has to step up and do that. ... They have certain guys, in my estimation, in that veteran group that have to lead the young guys. For me, they’re trying to figure it out on the fly here. Who is that next leader? I believe it’s Dylan Larkin in the end. It's difficult to all of a sudden take over and be that Zetterberg-type player, but I think eventually he's going to get there."