The Tampa Bay Lightning's hiring of Steve Yzerman as its general manager has gotten near-universal approval from around the hockey world; heck, it appears Stevie Y's managed to make hockey relevant in Florida simply by holding a press conference with a new lapel pin on his suit.
Now that the smoke cleared from this rock-star introduction in Tampa — the Globe & Mail said Yzerman inked a deal worth $12.5 million over five years — there's been some interesting news and analysis about the fallout from Yzerman's decision; not just for the Bolts but for other NHL teams too.
• Bolts owner Jeff Vinik admitted that Yzerman's availability made him alter his plans for the team, hiring a GM before he hired a CEO. Yzerman will report directly to Vinik and will make all decisions related to hockey ops; the CEO will handle the business end. That's a ton of autonomy for a first-time GM -- and a ton of confidence in him.
• The Columbus Blue Jackets are among four teams (Tampa, New Jersey Devils, Atlanta Thrashers) currently without a head coach. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch notes that Yzerman has a close relationship with Kevin Dineen, the Portland Pirates (AHL) head coach who was a playing-career peer of Yzerman's. Dineen's been considered a frontrunner for the Jackets' gig; does that change with Yzerman in Tampa?
• In thinking about the Lightning's head coaching vacancy, Yzerman may not be looking to poach assistant coaches from Mike Babcock in Detroit but he has some other names in mind for the gig.
One coach that Portzline mentioned at the end of his piece is the same name we heard Tuesday for Tampa's opening: Ex-Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant (2003-2007), winner of the CHL coach of the year award with the Saint John Sea Dogs.
He played with Yzerman in Detroit, and he played for the Lightning in Tampa. Ties to the GM, ties to the franchise, head coaching experience in the NHL ... sounds about right.
• There's been some talk about how Yzerman's signing jibes with his leaving Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos(notes) and Vinny Lecavalier off the Canadian Olympic Team that won gold in Vancouver. The St. Pete Times asked St. Louis about it; still bitter, but thinks Yzerman is a good move for the franchise.
That said: Would it stun anyone to see St. Louis in another uniform next season after his acrimonious comments recently and contract status?
• Finally, Elliotte Friedman believes the first huge test of Yzerman's tenure will be attempting to sign Steven Stamkos to his second NHL contract. From CBC Sports:
It's possible Stamkos could come in right behind Crosby/Malkin (five-year, $43.5 million contracts) on that list. Even though any extension wouldn't take effect until 2011-12, that's potentially trouble for Yzerman and Tampa. The Lightning haven't been a cap team in any of the last four seasons, with last year's payroll $14 million below the max. Next season, they are committed to $40 million for just 13 players. Then, it's $26 million for only six.
Friedman writes that "a lot of the attention will be on Vincent Lecavalier(notes), since he's got the biggest contract and hasn't played well in almost two years. But, Yzerman's critical step is signing Stamkos."
The cap's a consideration, for sure; but the real issue is contract length. Nicklas Backstrom(notes) just signed for 10 years. Sid and Geno signed for five. Does Stamkos commit to being a franchise player in the long-term or the short-term? And how much does having Yzerman there affect that decision?