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NHL-Yzerman hangs up skates after 22 seasons with Red Wings

Written by: Staff

DETROIT, July 3 (Reuters) Detroit Red Wings long-time captain Steve Yzerman on Monday announced his retirement from hockey after 22 seasons.

''I've decided to retire, hang up my skates, and I feel really good about that,'' Yzerman said at a news conference.

Yzerman spent his entire career with the Red Wings and led the team to three Stanley Cup championships in 1997, 1998, and 2002.

The 41-year-old had been hampered by knee injuries for the past six years but until recently had been hoping blers blast to the Joining the Red Wings at age 18, Yzerman was named captain three years later in the 1986-87 season and his tenure is the longest in NHL history.

Yzerman ranks sixth all-time with 1,755 points.

The Canadian native's time on the ice began to diminish after he aggravated a long-time knee injury, forcing him to miss 30 games in the 2001-2002 season.

Playing on one good knee, he led Detroit to its third Stanley Cup in six years in 2002, scoring 23 points in 23 games.

The following summer, Yzerman underwent surgery for a knee realignment, a procedure typically reserved for the elderly. He missed 66 games but returned to play in April, 2003.

After the NHL lockout that wiped out the 2004-2005 season, Yzerman signed a one-year deal with the Wings in August 2005, ensuring that Detroit would have the same captain for the 19th consecutive season.

A 10-time All-Star, Yzerman won many awards. He was named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team in 1984, won the Lester B. Pearson Award honoring the league's outstanding player in 1989, and the Conn Smythe Trophy honoring the playoff MVP in 1998.

He also helped Canada to gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Yzerman on Monday expressed admiration for fans and Red Wings officials, saying he ''always felt like a little boy trying to please his parents every time he stepped on the ice.'' (Additional reporting by Kevin Krolicki) Reuters DH VP0135

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