The story behind Steve Yzerman’s smile when the Detroit Red Wings won the 1997 Stanley Cup

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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The following is an excerpt from “The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings,” written by Free Press sports writer Helene St. James and published by Triumph Books. The book will be available online and in bookstores Tuesday.

Steve Yzerman was one of the most photographed men in the NHL in June 1997, when the Red Wings finally ended a 42-year drought and won the Stanley Cup, dispatching the Blues, Ducks, Avalanche, and Flyers en route. Yzerman had lost one of his front teeth two years earlier, and it had been replaced with a crown by team dentist Chet Regula. When a toothache became gradually more unbearable during the spring of 1997, Yzerman ended up in the dentist’s chair the day after Game 1 against the Ducks. “I was feeling lousy all the time and the doctor said I had a bone infection and should have it removed,” Yzerman said at the time.

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The tooth was taken out May 17. Before a new one could be put in, the Wings were Stanley Cup champions. The image of Yzerman hoisting the Stanley Cup while grinning a gap-toothed smile became an iconic image. “Here I am looking like a hillbilly,” Yzerman said of the photo. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings will be published October 13 by Triumph Books. To order, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Book it!

What: “The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings.”

Author: Helene St. James, who has covered the Red Wings at the Detroit Free Press since 1996. Foreword by Chris Osgood, winner of three Stanley Cups as a Wings goaltender.

Publisher: Triumph Books.

Pages: 336 pages (paperback).

Price: $16.95.

Availability: Officially released Tuesday. Available online now from booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Available in leading bookstores this week.

About the book: “The Big 50” brings to life the men and moments that made the Red Wings such a dynamic and iconic franchise for nearly a century. The book features never-before-told stories about the greats such as Howe, Yzerman, Lidstrom and Lindsay, the near-greats beloved by fans and the great memories of Fight Night, the Fabulous Fifties, the Team for the Ages, the Grind Line, The Joe and much more.

Get it signed! For a personalized copy of “The Big 50,” contact St. James at

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