Steve Yzerman: One of Few Rising Stars in NHL Front Offices

Dustin PollackContributor IAugust 30, 2009

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 25:  Team Canada Men's Olympic Hockey executive director Steve Yzerman speaks during a press conference to announce Team Canada's 2010 Winter Olympic Men's Hockey coaching staff June 25, 2009 at the Hilton Bonaventure hotel in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With NHL free agency settling down over the last few weeks, one of the hot topics of conversation within the hockey world seems to be the 2010 Olympics.

And in my hometown, it's all about Team Canada.

Over the past week, 40 or so Canadian players have tried to impress the coaching staff and upper management of Team Canada to try and ice one of the 20-plus roster spots for Vancouver 2010.

But rather then giving my predictions of who’s going to make the squad and who’s not, I thought I’d look at someone involved with Team Canada who is working his way up to one day being a prime NHL general manager.

Steve Yzerman.

What were once the stars of my generation on the ice are now becoming the men in suits who we see quick flashes of during games sitting up in the executive boxes. They include Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Joe Nieuwendyk, and most recently, Mark Messier, just to name a few.

Yzerman seems to be getting all the necessary credentials that will eventually put him in charge of an NHL franchise. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Detroit Red Wings, working with the NHL’s top GM, Ken Holland, and is the executive director for Team Canada 2010. He also captured gold as the GM of Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships in 2007.

But Brett Hull seems to be the only one of the four I mentioned earlier with at least a season of GM experience that being with the Dallas Stars from 2007-2009 (Nieuwendyk has taken over the position). However, he never seemed to be in the sports news doing very much positive during his tenure.

For one, Hull took major heat last season after his Sean Avery signing went sour. According to Sports Illustrated, the Avery signing was considered Hull’s baby after the two were teammates in Detroit and shared a house together. Hull had thought that Avery’s energy would help a Dallas dressing that seemed to be going stale.

Obviously, that was not the case.

Before I start to blabber, my main point is that Hull wasn’t fit to be an NHL general manager. After less than a season of front office experience, Hull was appointed as co-GM with Les Jackson. It simply wasn’t logical.

But it's not only former NHL stars who have struggled in the front office recently, as Tampa Bay Lightning owners Steve Koules and Len Barrie are having trouble as well. Since the two took over the Lighting at the end of the 2008 season, there have been reports that they've had heated arguments on various subjects such as the future of GM Brian Lawton and star forward Vinny Lecavalier.

Former Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella was quoted referring to Barrie and Koules as a couple of cowboys, and the two allegedly lied to former stud defenseman Dan Boyle by trading him to San Jose shortly after signing him to a contract extension.

That's simply another case of bad management due to lack of experience.

In the past, we've seen other people with a lack of experience take over NHL franchises, such as former Toronto Maple General Manager John Ferguson Jr.

But it’s not all bad. The NHL is lucky to have new up-and-coming faces like Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, who led the Bruins to first place in the Eastern Conference in 2009 in just his third season as GM. He is also responsible for bringing in Jack Adams Trophy winner Claude Julien.

Messier has now stepped into a front office role with the New York Rangers as special assistant to GM Glen Sather.

As for Yzerman, hopefully one day he can leave a legacy performing off-ice duties on par to the legacy he left performing on the ice.

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