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Volume 26 No. 178
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Interest In Red Wings Buzzing With Steve Yzerman Back In Fold As GM

Ilitch (l) and Yzerman wanted to wait until after the Lightning exited the playoffs to announce his hiring
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Ilitch (l) and Yzerman wanted to wait until after the Lightning exited the playoffs to announce his hiring
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Ilitch (l) and Yzerman wanted to wait until after the Lightning exited the playoffs to announce his hiring
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Red Wings' introduction of Steve Yzerman as their new GM on Friday afternoon was the "end product of negotiations that began" last month when team Gov., President & CEO Chris Ilitch "sought permission" from the Lightning to talk to Yzerman, according to Helene St. James of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Yzerman left the Red Wings' front office in '10 to "become GM of the Lightning, but stepped back at the start of last fall with a year left on his contract." Once talks with the Red Wings began, negotiations "moved quickly enough that an announcement was ready three days after the Lightning were eliminated" from the Stanley Cup Playoffs (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/20). Ilitch said that he "had a four- or five-hour sit-down meeting with Yzerman to discuss his strategies, philosophies and business plans if he took the job." Ilitch said that Yzerman "didn't want an announcement any sooner because he didn't want anything to be a distraction" from the Lightning (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 4/19). In Detroit, Jeff Seidel noted Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik last summer "approached Yzerman about a contract extension," but Yzerman "wouldn’t sign it." When he stepped down as the Lightning GM, Red Wings Exec VP Ken Holland and Ilitch "met and talked about trying to bring Yzerman back" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/20).

BIG JOB AHEAD: THE ATHLETIC's Max Bultman wrote the theme of Yzerman's introductory news conference was the "urgency of getting to work, but the patience to understand payday won’t come easy" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/19). Yzerman said that his goal for the Red Wings is to "return to the place where this club is expected to be." The first step is "showing marked improvement next season following three sub-.500 non-playoff seasons" (MLIVE.com, 4/20). In Detroit, John Niyo wrote the message Yzerman delivered Friday "wasn’t any different than the one Holland’s been sending for awhile now." However, Yzerman’s pitch is one a "frustrated fan base is willing to receive." Niyo: "In that sense, it buys them all some time, doesn’t it?" (DETROIT NEWS, 4/20). The HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell noted Yzerman's mandate is the "same as it was when he played: to bring the Red Wings back to their past glory." It is "not often a guy gets to save a franchise twice" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 4/19).

FAN-FAVORITE: The AP's Larry Lage noted Yzerman's return "fired up a fan base and drew emotional responses from ownership." Perhaps "in vain, Yzerman tried to pump the brakes on all the excitement" (AP, 4/19). In Detroit, Shawn Windsor wrote Yzerman "arrives with the kind of goodwill even a championship-building general manager can't match" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/20). Also in Detroit, Bob Wojnowski wrote under the header, "Steve Yzerman Is Back Where He Belongs." The move is the "bolt of energy and flash of hope" the Red Wings and Detroit sports needed. It was a "no-brainer" for Ilitch. Yzerman "immediately brightens the mood," even if the Red Wings "still sit a couple years from contention" (DETROIT NEWS, 4/20). The DETROIT FREE PRESS' Mitch Albom wrote under the header, "Steve Yzerman Back In Detroit. Happy Days Are Here Again" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/21).

HOLLAND'S FUTURE: Ilitch also announced on Friday that Holland had "signed a multi-year extension" as the team’s Senior VP. In Michigan, Ryan Zuke noted the length "was not disclosed." However, with NHL GM positions open with the Oilers and the new Seattle franchise scheduled to begin play in '20-21, Holland "could have been one of the biggest names on the market" (MLIVE.com, 4/19). llitch said that he hopes that Holland "will stay with the organization and not entertain any other jobs." Ilitch: "I’ve told Ken Holland that I would love for him to be a Red Wing for life" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/20). Holland said he is "excited" for Yzerman, acknowledging he is "not the boss anymore." Holland: "I’ve been a boss for a third of my life -- 22 years. That’s a long, long time. I’m 63, I still feel like I have a lot of passion. I feel like I have a ton of energy. It’s a little bit of a mixed-emotion day" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/19). The FREE PRESS' Seidel wrote in the "giddiness about Yzerman’s return, don’t forget about Holland, who has spent 36 years with the organization." He should be "celebrated for what he accomplished in Detroit" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/20).