Yzerman Recharges The Lightning
Three Stanley Cups, sixth in all time points, and having number 19 hanging in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena already fill out a resume to put Steve Yzerman among hockey’s all time greats. However, he is far from done.
In May 2010, Yzerman took over as General Manager and Vice President of Tampa Bay and left his handprints all over the organization all the way down to the team’s uniforms, revitalizing the franchise into a Stanley Cup caliber team like the won that brought the hardware home in 2004.
It’s been a decade since Dave Andreychuk hoisted the Cup, but Yzerman stuck to his plan and made hard decisions that he knew would take time to pan out.
It starts with Steven Stamkos and his remarkable scoring ability, but it probably isn’t a coincidence that Stamkos’ first playoff game happened to fall in Yzerman’s first year with the reigns.
Yzerman’s thinking of not dwelling on the past, but focusing on the future leaves St. Louis and Lecavalier gone and new faces in return, highlighted by Ryan Callahan.
Following the Detroit line of thinking, Steve Yzerman supports his stars with young talent on the rise.
Jonathan Drouin and Andrei Vasilevskiy brighten the horizons of Tampa, Drouin following in Stamkos’ footsteps in terms of prolific offensive production and Vasilevskiy primed to build off his first NHL win in net.
Of course, both first round picks under the supervision of Yzerman.
Growth continues into the AHL with Tampa’s affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Yzerman’s farm team sits second in their conference and has already sent up multiple players who continue to have impact, Vasilevskiy included.
Last season, Yzerman orchestrated a team worth 101 points, but was brought to its knees come playoff time by the Canadiens with a sweep in the first round.
The 2015 season for Yzerman will hopefully lead to a different result. And why wouldn’t the Lightning have a shot at the Cup? Yzerman’s man behind the bench, Jon Cooper, commands a team that tops the league in scoring and boasts a tremendous goal differential of plus 23 and growing.
Although they barely lead the mighty Atlantic Division, all the pieces in Tampa could lead to Yzerman’s first Stanley Cup as a General Manager, pushing his name among the greats in hockey history.