GM Steve Yzerman (shown here during the recent General Managers meetings) looks at his teams success in 2010-11, but continues to look forward to the future. (photo by Meredith Qualls | Raw Charge)
The Lightning have been resting up, practicing, and preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals for a week now. They're in the midst of a seven game winning streak and are getting huge contributions from just about every player on the roster. This is only the second time in franchise history that the team has advanced this far in the playoffs, and many around the league consider them the most dangerous team left. Many more consider the Lightning to be the biggest shock of the entire playoffs this year.
Talking to Steve Yzerman, you'd never know either one.
At a time where it can be so easy to fall into the attractions of the now - advancing to the third round, surprising performances from free agent signings, the trade for Dwayne Roloson paying off huge dividends, his gamble for a head coach looking like the best hire in franchise history - Yzerman remains poised, modest, and mindful of the future.
When asked about his and Coach Guy Boucher's success this season, in both their first years on the job, and if it surprised him, Stevie had this to say:
Talking to him at the beginning of the season, his goal is to win the Stanley Cup. ‘I'll figure out a way.' He has big expectations for himself. We sat down at the beginning of the year and said ‘We want to be a playoff team.' Him and his entire staff, they work very hard. They spend hours preparing for every practice and they're very detail-oriented.
I'm not surprised he's successful. I'm going to look back three, four, five years from now and assess whether I think we as an organization have done a real good job. Obviously we're thrilled in year one to be where we are, but, again I want to look back in a few years and say we've done a real good job, our team is where we want it to be, our organization is where we want it to be. We're enjoying this, but we recognize we've got a lot of work to do.
With excitement abound about this playoff run and season as a whole, with his nomination as NHL General Manager of the year, and with comparisons being made from all directions to the Cup-winning machine in Detroit and the magical 2004 Lightning squad that won the Stanley Cup, Steve Yzerman's biggest concern is with how he'll feel about the organization a few years from now.
At this point, what else can you expect from him? It's what he always has, and always will expect of himself.