Stevie Yzerman Brings Championship Mindset To Tampa Bay

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIMay 25, 2010

An icon from one of the NHL's most storied franchise looks to bring a little of the magic to his new home—the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Steve Yzerman, known by many as "Stevie Y", is the new general manager of the hockey club, filling the position formerly owned by the deposed Brian Lawton.

Yzerman, 45, has spent the past 27 years as a Hall of Fame center and executive with the Wings, and will have his first opportunity at running an NHL team, something he didn't feel he would have a chance to do in the friendly confines of Detroit.

He was executive director of Canada's 2010 gold-medal Olympic squad and was twice GM of teams Canada sent to the world championship, winning gold in 2007 and silver in 2008.

He's been vice president with the Red Wings since 2006 and was said to be one of the top young GM candidates in the league.

The Wings have won 15 division championships, six conference championships and four Stanley Cups during Yzerman's run as a player and front office guy.

First task for Yzerman is to find a head coach for the Bolts, who fired Rick Tocchet after missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Yzerman has some talent to work with, as the Lightning boast some of the best offensive weapons in the game with Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and captain Vincent Lecavalier.

The Lightning's new owner Jeff Vinik is also still looking for a CEO for the organization.

"There's no secret recipe here, nothing magical," Yzerman told reporters during his introductory press conference, "It's bringing in good people and holding players accountable."

After 27 years with the Red Wings, the decision to move on was a difficult one for the Hall of Famer. Still, it was the enthusiasm and vision of the Lightning's new owner that allowed Stevie Y to leave his comfort zone.

"With each conversation that Jeff and I had, I liked his plan,'' Yzerman said. "I became convinced this is a person I wanted to work with."

For Vinik, the feeling was mutual.

"Steve is the right man to bring a winning atmosphere back here and build a world-class organization," Vinik said.

For Vinik, Yzerman is a key piece of his team's "Bring in Back" campaign. He wants to reinvigorate the fan base getting that winning feeling back into the St. Pete Times forum. He hopes his franchise can begin to build a great tradition like one of the best franchises in the league, the Detroit Red Wings.

It starts with Stevie Y.