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BY ALLIE DAVISON | WHARTON HIGH
When it comes to difficult departures of home-crowd favorites, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has taken more than his share of criticism. With Steve Downie, Pavel Kubina, Carter Ashton, Matt Gilroy and Dominic Moore lost to trades, Yzerman has had his work cut out trying to establish and form a team ready to win multiple championships. But just like Rome, a good team isn’t built in a day. With that in mind, here are my top 4 reasons why Lightning fans should keep the faith with Yzerman:
Ready to throw down the gloves
It isn’t easy making the decision to haul off crowd and locker room favorites . Even with the fan base exerting a huge influence on the roster, Yzerman has been able to find a balance as the “man in charge.” Sometimes a player who is loved by the community just isn’t the right fit. Steve Downie is a perfect example. Though his grit and grind style and unwavering pride to fight made him a gem on the team, having the chance to flip him for a first-round draft pick is an opportunity Yzerman couldn’t pass up. Fans should respect this confidence and honesty.
Ever wonder why the GM got the nickname “The Captain”? Yzerman played 1,514 games in a Detroit jersey and notched 692 goals, 1,063 assists and three Stanley Cups before retiring in 2006 as the longest-serving captain of any team in North American major sports history. He is known for the exceptional leadership talent he displayed in every game. Wayne Gretzky has said there is a big difference between being a great player and being a great manager, but Yzerman’s on-ice performance is a reason fans should praise him. He comes from a city that prides itself on hockey traditions, and his experiences are inspirations for this Southern hockey team and community.
Trained by the best
Only a short two months after hanging up his skates, Yzerman was named vice president of the Red Wings organization in 2006. Working under longtime GM Ken Holland gave him the business training needed to run a team. Winning his fourth Stanley Cup in 2008 as VP and piecing together a gold-winning Team Canada during the 2010 Olympics proved Yzerman’s hockey mind thrived beyond the rink as well.
He genuinely cares
I know the capacity to care seems like a simple trait any general manager should have, but in the business world that isn’t always the case. Yzerman took a job with a team that was on the verge of an epic meltdown in Tampa. He came into the city with a passion Lightning fans had not seen since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004. Yzerman ignited the team by hiring Guy Boucher, an underdog in the coaching world who made a splash immediately, coaching the team into the Eastern Conference Finals. Yzerman is meticulous and well-researched and wants to build a winning organization, and the only way he can succeed is if Tampa Bay continues to “Be the Thunder.”