Steve Yzerman is going to be at the helm of the Tampa Bay Lightning for another four years. Yzerman signed a new four-year extension that kicks in after his remaining year is over, meaning he will be with the Lightning at least until 2018-2019.
This contract isn’t just another contract extension. It symbolizes the faith that owner Jeff Vinik has in Yzerman. It has been a tough year of transition for the Bolts and Yzerman has made all decisions with Vinik’s support.
In the offseason, Yzerman used a compliance buyout and bought out longtime captain Vincent Lecavalier meaning Vinik would have to pay Lecavalier $32 million and Lecavalier isn’t even playing for his team. That’s a tough ticket to ask an owner to do but it speaks volumes to the trust and faith Vinik and Yzerman have in each other.
That faith was again put to the test when another cornerstone and captain of the Lightning, Martin St. Louis, asked to be traded to the New York Rangers and Vinik yet again stuck to the course that Yzerman had put in motion. St. Louis was traded and Callahan brought in along with some draft picks.
Yzerman has made some questionable calls such as sticking with Dwayne Roloson longer than he should have and giving up a lot to trade for both Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback but those are expected of a GM in his first few years with his team.
Yzerman has also made great decisions such as picking up Bishop and stockpiling draft picks and building up a farm system. 14 of his last 20 draft picks are expected to sign or have already signed and the future is already beginning to creep into the organization.
Which brings up this point, Vinik’s faith has been rewarded and Yzerman vindicated. The Lightning are back in the playoffs and they have a future not mortgaged or hindered by bloated contracts, failed trades or lack of depth in the organization.
Yzerman and Vinik have both said they want to build this team into a perennial winner. Although it is still earlier, it’s guaranteed that they are heading in that direction.
“Since the day Steve agreed to serve as our vice president and general manager, he has worked tirelessly to transform our hockey department and establish the groundwork for sustained success.” “We are very pleased with Steve’s job performance thus far, and I am fully confident Steve remains the right person to continue to lead us,” Vinik said through a team press release.
This extension represents the trust these two men have which is so critical between an owner and general manager. It also represents a sense of vindication that although Yzerman has made some gutsy moves, Vinik wouldn’t have anyone else in the chair to make them.
Jeff Vinik has taken the motto that many fans have in “Keep Calm and trust Yzerman.”
So far it looks like it is paying off.