Steve Yzerman has said, since the day he took the job as General Manager and Vice President of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010, that building a contender would be a process. You have to build through the draft, and you won't go from worst to first overnight.
Fast forward five years: Yzerman's plan has come to fruition. The Bolts ultimately bowed out, 4 games to 2, in the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, but have pushed their window of contention wide open in large part due to Yzerman's tireless work to stock the team with talent.
At the NHL Awards on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Yzerman was named GM of the Year, following voting by GMs, executives, print and broadcast media that took place after the second round of the playoffs. Yzerman beat out Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks (last year's winner) and Glen Sather of the New York Rangers.
No doubt this is in part for recognition of Yzerman's slow, measured development plan that has seen the Tampa Bay Lightning add top-end talent through all avenues available to a GM; via the draft (Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, and many more), via free agency (Valtteri Filppula, Matt Carle, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle) or via trades with other teams (Braydon Coburn, Ryan Callahan). There wasn't one specific defining moment for Yzerman in the 2014-15 run, so this victory instead honors his overall body of work since taking over from Brian Lawton in 2010 as new owner Jeff Vinik took ownership of the franchise.
It's not a Stanley Cup win, and Yzerman -- like all the players -- will tell you this award, while nice, means very little. The Cup is still the goal. Still, it's nice to see him recognized for the tremendous work he's done building and managing this team.