Steve Yzerman stepping down as GM of Lightning

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Steve Yzerman is entering the final year of his contract with the Lightning. (AP Images)
Steve Yzerman is entering the final year of his contract with the Lightning. (AP Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s front office will look a little different this season.

According to multiple sources, Steve Yzerman is stepping down as GM and will be moving into a senior advisory role. Yzerman was entering the final year of his contract.

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No reason was given for Yzerman’s decision, although the team did hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement official and introduce his replacement, Julien BriseBois.

BriseBois, who has been serving as Yzerman’s assistant general manager, will grab the reins ahead of the upcoming campaign. He’s widely regarded as a strong hockey mind and joined Tampa Bay in 2010 when he was hired from the Montreal Canadiens.

He was the general manager of Calder Cup champion Norfolk Admirals in 2011-12 and reached the final on two other occasions with the Syracuse Crunch, who replaced Norfolk as Tampa’s AHL affiliate in 2012-13.

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Following a very successful 22-season career on the ice, all with the Detroit Red Wings, Yzerman became Tampa Bay’s GM in 2010. During his time in the role, he proved to be one of the best in the league as the Lightning made it to the Stanley Cup Final once and appeared in three Eastern Conference finals.

Beyond this year, his future with the franchise is unknown.

During his eight seasons of running the Bolts, he turned around a franchise that had fallen on tough times since their first Stanley Cup victory in 2004. With a young Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman providing him with a solid foundation, Yzerman and Co. continued to build the team through shrewd draft selections.

Picking up Nikita Kucherov in the second round, 58th overall in the 2011 Entry Draft was a steal and a half. Later that same draft, diamond-in-the-rough Ondrej Palat was scooped up in the seventh round, 208th overall. Brayden Point (79th overall in 2014) and Anthony Cirelli (72nd overall in 2015) are two more selections that Yzerman made later in drafts that have become key pieces of the Lightning offence.

In the last few years, he made some brilliant trades including the deal that sent a disgruntled Jonathan Drouin to Montreal for a defensive stud in Mikhail Sergachev. Also, he was able to land Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller in February for a package including Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Howden and a first round pick. Those two swaps can definitely be chalked up as wins for Stevie Y.

Despite having so much star power in the Bolts dressing room, Yzerman has managed the cap well and that’s been a big reason why Tampa Bay has been so consistently good for the last half decade.

They’ll once again be a favourite to lift the Stanley Cup in June. The Lightning finished atop the Atlantic division last season with a record of 54-23-5 for 113 points before falling to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference final in seven games.

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