SBD/Issue 177/Franchises

Lightning Strike: Steve Yzerman Formally Introduced As New GM

Vinik (r) Says Yzerman (l) Has Full Rein
For All Hockey-Related Decisions

The Lightning yesterday formally introduced Steve Yzerman as their new GM, and Owner Jeff Vinik said that Yzerman "will be responsible for all hockey-related decisions and report only to him," according to Damian Cristodero of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Vinik said Yzerman, who has been a Red Wings Senior VP since September '06, "has full rein." Cristodero writes having "one voice at the top is welcomed relief" for the Lightning. Yzerman said, "With each conversation Jeff and I had, I liked his plan. In my opinion, I believe Jeff has a complete understanding of what has to be done here." It is believed that Yzerman signed a "five-year deal that makes him one of the league's highest-paid general managers." Yzerman said that he was "not given an ownership stake" in the franchise. Vinik said that he "will hire a CEO soon, but the CEO will be involved only in business matters" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/26). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle notes Yzerman "will have the last word and be on his own at the top, handed the reins by a rookie owner to reshape what's become one of the league's more troubled franchises of late." A source said that "despite his relative inexperience, Yzerman received a five-year contract for $2.5 million a season, a deal on par with some of the NHL's top executives" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26).

KEEP THE FAITH: In St. Petersburg, John Romano writes Lightning fans "have reason to believe in hockey again. After two ownership groups bailed. After three head coaches were fired. After two GMs were dumped. After all the vacant cash calls and all the empty promises, Yzerman has made faith a virtue again." For the "first time in a long while, it feels like there is harmony in the front office." For the "first time in a long while, it feels like this could be a hockey town." Romano: "When was the last time somebody of Yzerman's pedigree actually chose the Lightning?" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/26). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Rory Boylen wrote, "With a good base of young talent and veteran producers, Yzerman has something with which to work in Tampa and, given his resume, Lightning fans can rest well knowing their franchise is finally in capable -- and prepared -- hands" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 5/25). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote Yzerman's hire "gives Tampa credibility in the marketplace, which is good news for the Bettman administration, which has been trying to stabilize this franchise for years" (THESTAR.com, 5/25).

MOTOR CITY BLUES: In Detroit, Helene St. James writes the Red Wings "lost an important member of their front office" yesterday. Not having Yzerman with the franchise in "any capacity is going to require a period of adjustment" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/26). Red Wings Owners Mike and Marian Ilitch yesterday in a statement said, "Today is a difficult day for us, just as we know it is for Red Wings fans everywhere. ... This is not easy -- we're having a difficult time, frankly, because Stevie's been with us from the start and we consider him part of our family" (Red Wings). In Detroit, Chris McCosky notes Yzerman "drove to the Ilitches' house last night to deliver the news in person." The Red Wings "will miss Yzerman's presence," but the franchise "as a whole isn't severely stung by this." The Red Wings "will continue to roll on smoothly and successfully as long as" Exec VP & GM Ken Holland is at the helm (DETROIT NEWS, 5/26).

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