Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is reportedly stepping down, according to Sportsnet. Sportsnet based their story on tweets from NHL insider Elliotte Freidman.
Friedman followed that up with a tweet that said Yzerman informed Lightning players this morning. TSN's Bob McKenzie adds that Yzerman is expected to serve as a senior adviser to the team for the balance of his contract. According to the team's website, the Lightning have Yzerman under contract through the end of the 2018-19 season, meaning any team wishing to retain his services will either have to wait or negotiate for those rights.
Julien BriseBois, currently assistant GM under Yzerman, is expected to replace Yzerman as general manager. BriseBois is currently with the Lightning's AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch acting as the GM at that team as part of his Lightning assistant GM role.
Yzerman's tenure as the Lightning's GM lasted just over eight years, after he was installed during the early stages of Jeff Vinik's ownership of the franchise. Under Yzerman's guidance, Tampa Bay went from the NHL's basement to perennial contenders, including appearances in three of the last four Eastern Conference Finals, beginnning with a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015. That Stanley Cup Finals appearance was part of a great season personally for Yzerman, who also won the GM of the Year award that season.Deals Yzerman brokered include long-term contracts for some of the Lightning's (and NHL's) brightest stars, from Captain Steven Stamkos and Norris-winning defenseman Victor Hedman to high-scoring winger Nikita Kucherov and veteran blue-liner Ryan McDonagh. Yzerman has since been known for inking deals with tremendously talented players for less than their perceived market value. Some critics attribute this to an alleged advantage in the form of Florida's lack of state income tax, thereby giving the Lightning a leg up on other teams.
Yzerman was in the last year of his current contract, and Lightning fans will not have to fear that he is gone from the team, with Yzerman expected to remain involved with the team in an advisory role.
As a player Yzerman won three Stanley Cups three times with the Detroit Red Wings part of a career at center which earned Yzerman a place in the Hall of Fame. After retiring Yzerman went directly into hockey management with the team which he played with, serving as the Red Wings' vice-president of hockey operations winning the Cup in 2008. Yzerman also boasts two gold medals in his trophy cabinet, having served as the GM of the Canadian team when it won gold in 2010 and 2014.