After some 27 years with the Detroit Red Wings franchise, Steve Yzerman is heading down ol’ Florida way. Announced Tuesday as the new general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yzerman becomes the team’s sixth GM and their third in just two years.
He’ll certainly have his work cut out for him with the Lightning and may have had to settle in taking the job, as it didn’t look as though the same position was going to be available in Detroit for at least a few years. Heading to Tampa will give Yzerman some experience in team operations and may prepare him for a further tenure in Detroit.
“I am very grateful for everything they did for me over my playing years and my four years [since],” he said. “In those four years, I was able to learn from one of the most successful and best management teams in hockey. This, I know, has prepared me for the job that lies ahead here in Tampa Bay.”
The Tampa position became available when the Lightning’s new owner, Jeff Vinik, fired general manager Brian Lawton as well as coach Rick Tocchet. Yzerman will be inheriting a team that has missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons despite boasting an impressive roster of younger players, including Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Vincent Lecavalier.
Yzerman also appears to have chemistry with Tampa’s new owner, which should make things workable for him and the Lightning. “This is somebody I [think] I could enjoy working for,” said Yzerman. “I believe that Jeff has a complete understanding of what needs to be done here and I like his approach to running this team, and I became convinced this is a person I want to work with.”
Yzerman will start picking up the pieces on a team that went 34-36-7 last season, marking a 14 point upswing from the previous year but still proving ultimately revealing for a team that hasn’t won a post-season series since winning the Cup in 2004.
One of the first orders of business for Yzerman will be to fill the coaching position. He has said that he doesn’t expect to have it done in time for the June 25 draft, but it is something he’s considering.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.