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Hiring of Steve Yzerman as Tampa Bay Lightning GM, changes owner's plans

In the end, this probably will end up as no more than a blip in the larger makeover of the Tampa Bay Lightning's front office, but it was interesting that owner Jeff Vinik departed from his initial plan to hire a CEO before a general manager when on Tuesday he hired GM Steve Yzerman.

The early plan made sense. Hire a CEO to hire the general manager because the GM ultimately would answer to the CEO. But whether it was the urgency to sign up Yzerman, as Vinik said, or a demand by Yzerman, Vinik announced Tuesday that the plan, not only the execution but the management flow chart, had changed.

Beyond the fact that the GM already is hired, the new setup is this: The CEO and general manager both will report directly to Vinik. In other words, Yzerman will not have to report to the CEO. Yzerman will make all decisions related to hockey operations, the CEO will make all decisions relating to the business of running the team and the St. Pete Times Forum. Think of it this way: the two executive sitting on either side of the owner.

Vinik said the CEO search is continuing and he expects to make a hire soon. The position is still integral to the success of the franchise. But when it comes to hockey decisions, that Yzerman is reporting directly to Vinik means Yzerman has one less layer of bureaucracy to deal with when making a move.

Vinik was up front about the change in direction. He even brought it up before he was asked at Tuesday's news conference. And it makes sense if you trust your general manager the way Vinik sounds as if he trusts Yzerman. Now Yzerman has to prove the trust is well-placed.

[Last modified: Friday, June 25, 2010 12:15am]


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