Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for the NHL's GM of the Year award.
In his first season as a GM, the former Detroit Red Wings star gave the franchise immediate credibility and built a team that had missed the playoffs in three previous seasons into the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Mike Gillis of the Presidents Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks and David Poile of the Nashville Predators are the other finalists.
The winner will be announced at the NHL's annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 22.
Asked outside the Lightning locker room on Wednesday if he knew such an award existed, Yzerman said, "I did not."
Whether that is true or not — and after closely working with Red Wings GM Ken Holland the past four years, you would think Yzerman would have heard of the award — it is typical of the low-key manager, and his brief comments on the award emphasize that as he singled out owner Jeff Vinik and CEO Tod Leiweke.
"I don't think it is the result of what I've done," Yzerman said, "but of Jeff, Todd and the players who worked hard.
Yzerman sells himself short, of course. As his achievements are numerous.
A brief list:
Helping change the culture of an organization that had lost its way the previous two years. Signed Marty St. Louis to a four-year contract extension. Short-circuited the ongoing speculation that captain Vinny Lecavalier would be traded by publicly stating Lecavalier would be with the team. Jettisoning dead-wood contracts for Andrej Meszaros and Matt Walker. Taking a chance on Simon Gagne, which paid off the second half of the season and so far in the playoffs. Corrected his own mistake concerning the goaltending by bringing in Dwayne Roloson. Adding stout defenseman Eric Brewer.
Mostly, though, he helped turn the downtrodden organization into a playoff team, and for that he should be recognized.
"I love the position," Yzerman said of being Lightning GM. "I love what I do. It's a great challenge."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Center Steven Stamkos did not participate in the morning skate. That raised some eyebrows as the 21-year-old rarely misses a skate and every other healthy player participated. That, and his continuing scoring slump, led to lots of questions during his meeting with reporters about his health. But Stamkos said he is fine other than the bumps and bruises expected of a long season. He also said coach Guy Boucher likes how Stamkos has played in the past with two days rest. Stamkos was not one of the few players who skated Tuesday. ... Wing Ryan Malone was the other Lightning player who did not skate. Malone played in noticeable pain on Monday but said he is playing tonight and sent up smoke screens when asked about what is ailing him. Malone said a broken skate blade kept him off the ice for much of the first period Monday. When asked if he had full range of motion, he acted as if he was asked about the small cut he has over an eye. There was talk about an injured finger nail. You get the idea. ... With Steve Downie out for a one-game league suspension, Boucher did not say if he would go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen or the usual 12 and six. If he goes with seven defensemen, figure Marc-Andre Bergeron gets the call. If he sticks with 12 forwards, either Mattias Ritola or Blair Jones, called up from AHL Norfolk, will play. ... Speaking of Norfolk, up 2-1 in its playoff series with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Yzerman said he would have liked to get Carter Ashton to the team for tonight's game. Ashton's junior team was eliminated from the playoffs. Logistically, though, it might not be possible. ... Yzerman did not give details, but it sure sounds as if Norfolk goaltender Cedrick Desjardins is in for a long rehab on his injured right shoulder. That is a difficult situation for the Lightning, which was counting on Desjardins to be next season's backup for Tampa Bay. ... Here's an interesting little tidbit: wing Marty St. Louis, on home game days, is staying at a hotel near the St. Pete Times Forum. St. Louis said he is doing it to eliminate his commute home so he can get the proper rest and be quicker to his pregame nap. ... Did you hear the story about the Lightning fan who is going to name her soon-to-be-born baby after Malone? Miah Glisson told the St. Petersburg Times her daughter, due in August, will be named Zoe Malone. Said Malone: "That's pretty cool." ... Remember all the trouble Ritola had with the Lightning with Meniere's disease? The dizziness? The ringing in his ear? Well, Ritola said since he has been going to a chiropractor in Norfolk, he has had zero attacks. ... ThunderStix will be given out at tonight's game. Will they be louder than the rally drums from Game 3?