Steve Yzerman's name has stood out since last Wednesday night's report that he was on the short-list for the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager vacancy. I've tried to play it down because team owner Jeff Vinik has made it a point (and stressed it) that a GM will not be hired by the club until a CEO is in place (thus my obsession with the CEO rumors of late).
But it's really impossible to play down a name like Steve Yzerman. Not with his on-ice accomplishments in Hockeytown USA and for his country in international play.
But is he ready for Hockey Bay, USA? Is he willing?
Chris Botta, renown for his work at NYI Point Blank and writing for NHL Fanhouse, reported today that Yzerman is candidate one for the Tampa Bay Lightning GM gig... Or at least an un-named source told him as much.
A source tells NHL FanHouse the job could be Yzerman's if he is able to convince management of his commitment for the long haul. Yzerman, the Detroit legend, currently holds a desk job with the Red Wings. His departure from the city where he is beloved will not come easily.
With new owner Jeff Vinik dedicated to building a winner and spending, and Steven Stamkos on the verge of superstardom, the Tampa Bay job is an attractive opportunity.
We're told that Vinik does not believe he has to go to the "old boys' club" of NHL GMs. Although Yzerman managed Team Canada to gold at the Olympics, this would be his first position as an NHL general manager. The Lightning are said to have interviewed a handful of candidates also seeking their first shot behind the big desk.
We touched on the potential of someone outside "the old boy club" could be a candidate for a role with the Bolts (either as CEO or GM). Yzerman may not be a traditional GM entrenched in front office politics, but in different ways, he still is an Old Boy. He's got his connections in the hockey world and they could serve him in one fashion or another as GM.
But Damian Cristodero's story at Lightning Strikes from a few days ago, talking about Yzerman as a candidate, throws cold water on the idea Yzerman's hiring is imminent. That comes by way of former coach (and Times Palace press box mainstay) Scotty Bowman:
"I’d be surprised if he leaves," Bowman said Friday. "He’s like the son to the owner. He’s been there nearly 30 years, and I think he’s in line to move up the chain."
There are other points, not from the former coach, about why Yzerman may be hesitant to head south. His family being the number one reason. This wouldn't be the first time family has factored in on a move, of course.
Whatever the case, we likely won't have a clue what is going on with the Lightning and Yzerman until the Red Wings are eliminated from the playoffs. The last thing Steve would want to be for his club is a distraction.