Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman studied under the Detroit Red Wings' elite front office

Steve Yzerman’s on-the-job training included putting together Canada’s gold-medal-winning team for February’s Olympics.

Associated Press

Steve Yzerman’s on-the-job training included putting together Canada’s gold-medal-winning team for February’s Olympics.

TAMPA — Steve Yzerman said his four years as Red Wings vice president were "an opportunity to go to school."

His teachers: general manager Ken Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill and executive vice president Jim Devellano, all of whom helped transform Detroit into one of the league's elite teams.

The experience is the foundation for Yzerman, hired Tuesday as Lightning general manager, the Hall of Fame center's first try at running an NHL team.

"It gave me an opportunity to watch how they made every decision, how they handled a free-agent signing, how they handled the draft, how they developed, how they went about hiring people," Yzerman said at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Yzerman also was general manager of the Canadian national teams that won gold at the 2007 world championship and silver in 2008, and he was executive director, and put together, Canada's gold-medal team at this year's Olympics.

In other words, don't confuse Yzerman with Brian Lawton, Yzerman's predecessor, who was an agent before taking over.

Still, picking an All-Star team for the Olympics isn't the same as the day-to-day grind of the NHL that includes signing players, managing a salary cap and organizational development.

But Yzerman, 45, who signed a five-year deal with the Lightning for what Canada's Globe and Mail said was $12.5 million, said that atmosphere also was invaluable.

"You learn how to make decisions," he said. "I also did a lot of scouting, so I gained knowledge of players. I gained knowledge about coaches all around the league, made a lot of contacts.

"Mostly what I've learned is patience — every decision takes time — and surround yourself with good people who have a passion for the game and who really want to work at that. That's what I intend to do."

"Steve has grown so much as an executive," said Bob Nicholson, president of Hockey Canada, which oversees his country's national teams. "He will have a clear direction, and he will be up front and honest. Players are looking to know where they stand. He will give them that."

He also will give them due diligence, Holland said: "He's got incredible passion for the sport and the job."

Holland said Yzerman sat in on every management meeting with the Red Wings, whether it concerned pro or amateur scouting or was held at the team's annual prospects camp.

"He was right there every step of the way on every decision we made the past four years," Holland said. "In my opinion, he's paid his dues. He's done everything he could to prepare to be a general manager."

Said Devellano: "I'm sure given the proper time and budget, he can make his executive career every bit as good as his playing career."

Even so, Holland said, it will be "surreal" seeing Yzerman across the table at next week's GM meetings in Philadelphia. But that is what happens when a player cuts ties with an organization he has been with for 27 years, including 23 as a player.

"Steve and I have had several conversations about how great it would be if 27 years from now he and I were still working here and working hard on the Lightning," Tampa Bay owner Jeff Vinik said. "I'm the owner, and he's the GM of a championship organization."

Yzerman's teachers would be proud.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

New Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman studied under the Detroit Red Wings' elite front office 05/26/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.