Since hiring Steve Yzerman as General Manager May 25, 2010 the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise has been slowing turning the corner into a respectable, classy and winning organization. Yzerman's long association with the Detroit Red Wings franchise, as both a player and Vice President, obviously taught him a great deal about building a winning franchise.
Also, his experience as Executive Director of Team Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics winning the gold medal surely helped his confidence off the ice as well.
He also plucked highly touted young coach Guy Boucher from the Hamilton Bulldogs and it appears his revolutionary coaching style has paid off in spades. Currently he has the team sitting in fifth place and they appear to have that spot locked up. That means they should draw either the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Pittsburgh and the Flyers will be tough opponents either way, but the Lightning have shown that they are a franchise that has turned the corner. Whether or not they make it out of the first round this season, look for them to come back a stronger team next season.
The future looks bright for Tampa Bay with Steven Stamkos providing league leading scoring and a still relatively young Vincent Lecavalier (30 years old) finding his game again. They also have some young talent on the back end with Victor Hedman starting to round into form. Much like Detroit does every year, Tampa has been able to fill holes with effective role players that have bought into the coaches system.
Their new jerseys for the 2011-2012 NHL season are very much simplified and classic. They look very much to be in the same simple style as the Red Wings. They have two colours, blue and white, and a simple logo. They look very sharp and classy, and you can be sure that these uniforms will not be changed much more in the time that Yzerman is in power with this franchise.
While a jersey may seem like a small issue, all the best teams and organizations seem to keep them mostly unchanged and fairly simple in style. The Red Wings are the perfect example: their jerseys have been essentially the same for the past 60-plus years.
Also, little things like Steve Yzerman asking Vincent Lecavalier to put a visor on after his recent scare when a puck hit him in the face. Yzerman himself did not wear a visor until he had his own scare with a puck to the face in his second last year. If there is a means to avoid such injuries, he wants his players to take it. The Lightning organization genuinely cares about the safety and well-being of their players.
If the Lightning continue on the path they are on they will surely be a model franchise in the NHL much the same as Detroit and Pittsburgh. Thanks for Steve Yzerman to showing that a little class and a change in culture goes a long way for an NHL franchise.