Questions Surround Timing Of Lightning GM's Resignation
Steve Yzerman is "stepping down after eight seasons" as Lightning GM, though he "will stay in the organization" for the coming season as an advisor to his replacement in former Assistant GM Julien BriseBois, according to Tom Jones of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Yzerman "would not commit to anything beyond this season when asked about his decision." He said that he "came to the decision in late July not to sign another contract as GM and that it took until now to iron out details on what to do next." He added that the move will "allow him to spend more time with his family." Since Yzerman took over the team in '10, the Lightning have made "three trips to the Eastern Conference final and one trip to the Stanley Cup final" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/12). In Toronto, Dave Feschuk notes Yzerman yesterday was "noncommittal when he was asked about his long-term plans." But the timing of his resignation is "curious," given that he had "decided he wanted to step down in late July" (TORONTO STAR, 9/12).
DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen writes this is a "significant blow for the Lightning." Working with Owner Jeff Vinik, Yzerman has "transformed the Lightning into one of the league’s model franchises." The Lightning have a "committed fan base, and a major reason is the confidence fans have in Yzerman’s decision-making and leadership." Yzerman has "given the organization prestige, an elite image that had been lacking before he arrived" (USA TODAY, 9/12). The TAMPA BAY TIMES' Jones in a front-page piece writes yesterday "could go down as one of the darkest days in Tampa Bay sports history." The news "rocked the hockey world," as Yzerman's tenure with the team "has been sensational." He "gave the Lightning credibility and class." Jones: "You could make a case that he is the best GM in the game" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/12).
NEXT MAN UP: In Tampa, Martin Fennelly writes despite all the "seismic news" from the Lightning, there was also a "seamlessness" to the announcement. It spoke to Vinik's "confidence that one of the best-run franchises in sports will keep humming with 41-year-old BriseBois running things." BriseBois has been "in demand as a GM over the years" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/12). The HOCKEY NEWS' Jared Clinton also noted Brisebois has "long been considered one of the frontrunners for vacant team-building gigs throughout the NHL," and it "would be foolish to assume that [he] is incapable of replacing Yzerman" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/11). SPORTSNET.ca's Chris Johnston wrote Yzerman "can feel good about how he’s left the house in order." The Lightning are "built to contend well beyond this season and have one of the more progressive thinkers in the game now at the helm in BriseBois" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/11).