–EDIT 8:52PM MT–
I’ve had some more time to absorb today’s news that Steve Yzerman is the new GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I was stunned this morning when I woke up to find the announcement on Twitter. Stunned, but honestly, not overly surprised. I think that we all knew this day was coming sooner or later.
I watched his press conference this afternoon, and listened to him trip over his words while trying to describe his dreams and vision for this hockey club in Florida. And I couldn’t decide how I felt about the whole situation. It just seemed surreal.
Then I watched the interview he did shortly afterwards with Rick Peckham. In the background you can see the marquee scrolling part of the phrase “Lightning Welcome Steve Yzerman.” That’s when it completely sunk in. Stevie’s not just ours any more. We’ve already shared him with Canada, but this is completely different. This is… weird. There’s no other way to put it. It’s really, really weird.
There was a question floating around the twittersphere earlier today, which was how do Red Wings fans feel about this news? And I hope there isn’t anyone who is angry or mad with his decision to leave the Wings. It doesn’t mean that he’s not still a Wing for life. It doesn’t mean that he’s not still a hero and a legend and an icon in the city of Detroit.
I talked about this with Matt just a short bit ago, and as much as I’d love to see him come back to Detroit some day soon, I don’t want it to be because he failed in Tampa. I don’t want to see impatient fans in a nontraditional market drive him out because their team hasn’t improved enough fast enough. If it takes 27 years in Florida, so be it.
I wrote earlier today that it’s kind of like being happy for the person you’re in love with, who’s decided to be with someone else. Because you love them, you want the best for them. And that’s exactly how I feel about this situation. Above all else, I want Steve Yzerman to succeed and thrive as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I want him to win, and I want him to prove that he can run an NHL club without the failsafe of Detroit’s front office behind him. I want him to prove that he can manage a team that isn’t built from a fantasy roster of options.
I want people to be able to say that he was the ultimate player, Captain, and GM.
Steve Yzerman is going to be the new General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Being in Mountain Time, I woke up to this news first thing this morning, and for a moment I kind of wanted to cry a little. I know, in the short term it’s better for Detroit to keep Ken Holland, the best GM in sports. I know that Yzerman wants to run an NHL team. I know he’s capable of turning around a mess like Tampa.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t be sad about it. He’s been a Red Wing for 27 years (almost to the day, according to TPL). He’s a hero and a legend in Detroit. He is hands down all time my favorite player. I cannot even imagine seeing him wear the logo of another NHL team. I know the Lightning will present him with a jersey at the press conference this afternoon. I know he won’t put it on, but just the image alone is seriously unsettling:
That’s just… wrong.
On the flip side, I’m happy for him. It’s kind of like still being (or trying to be) happy for the person you’re in love with even though they’ve decided to be with someone who isn’t you. Because you love them, and you want the best for them. He’s made it no secret that he wants to run his own club and that he knows he’d possibly have to leave Detroit in order to do that.
And so I wish him the best of luck. This may be his first ever NHL GM job, but look what he did with the Canadian Olympic team. Some of his player selections were questioned at the time–no Mike Green, no Dion Phaneuf. But he won Gold with that team. I’ll defer back to Petrella who put it well:
It may not be quick, and they’re still embroiled in a messy ownership debacle, courtesy of Saw guy and hardly-was NHLer. But, rest assured, like he always did on terrible Red Wings teams, Steve Yzerman will find a way to make the most of it.
I don’t have an Eastern team that I really root for, but I might have to adopt the Lightning for now.