When Steve Yzerman shocked the hockey world last fall by announcing that he was stepping down as Tampa Bay Lightning GM, many believed it was to take some time with family before his next opportunity—perhaps even one with the Detroit Red Wings. Julian BriseBois took over the Lightning front office and Yzerman was officially moved to a “senior advisor” role, but it wasn’t clear what kind of impact he would have on the Lightning through the rest of his contract, which ends after this season. BriseBois cleared that up this week when speaking with NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika at the GM Meetings in Boca Raton, Forida:
He’s missed maybe a handful of home games. He’s been at pretty much every home game. Usually when we’re home for a home stand, he comes in from Detroit. He’s been at some of our road games. I went and scouted with him to a number of (American Hockey League) weekends, junior games. So, he’s been very involved.
BriseBois goes on to say that he speaks to Yzerman daily and that the Hall of Fame player was involved heavily in the Lightning’s plans for the recent trade deadline. Some of that involvement may come as a surprise to those who are convinced Yzerman is heading back to the Red Wings after his contract is up, given that the two teams currently reside in the same division. The Tampa Bay GM wasn’t biting when asked about his advisor’s plans, and actually explained that if Yzerman wants to stay with the Lightning he will welcome him back with open arms.
The Lightning have been built into a powerhouse under Yzerman and BriseBois, including three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup Finals appearance. The team has an incredible 51-12-4 record this season and are 17 points ahead of the next best team in the NHL. A Presidents Trophy is nearly a guarantee at this point, and anything short of a Stanley Cup would seem disappointing. With all of that success there is surely reason for Yzerman stay involved with the team going forward, though no decision is clear at this point.
Detroit on the other hand are in the midst of a rebuild, and still have GM Ken Holland under contract through the 2019-20 season. It would be closer for Yzerman, who resides in the area, but there is no guarantee he will be handed the keys this offseason. For now, he’ll keep working with the Lightning and try to help the team capture their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.