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Tampa Bay Lightning heading to the ECF because Steve Yzerman is a genius

Getting past the first and second round has become a regular occurrence with Yzerman at the wheel.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning are officially headed to the Eastern Conference Finals. Steve Yzerman has built an organization and team that is ready to compete every year. Sure, there were some growing pains along the way, but they’ve gotten almost to where Yzerman wants them — the last step being lifting a certain silver trophy over their heads, which Yzerman did as a player three times.

I remember a while back during this season, hockey journalist and McKeen’s prospect writer Grant McCagg (a Montreal Canadiens fan) lamented why Steve Yzerman was considered a “good” general manager.

McCagg compared Yzerman (and Poile, whom I also think highly of as a GM) to the much-maligned Marc Bergevin. He pointed out that the Lightning have missed the playoffs in three of Yzerman’s seven seasons (this was prior to the completion of this, his 8th season), while Bergevin’s Canadiens had only missed the playoffs once in his five seasons (and now twice in six). He also made a big deal of how many division titles the Canadiens have won, as if that had translated into great success for the Canadiens. Hint: It hasn’t.

There are very good reasons why Yzerman is considered one of the best general managers in the league today. We as Tampa Bay Lightning fans are not uncritical of him. In fact, I’ve graded all of his moves several times, pointing out that not all of his decisions are good ones (remember Guy Boucher?). But in general, my conclusion is still sound:

It’s often hard to evaluate moves until years after they’ve happened. Sometimes deals work out better than expected when it was made and sometimes they work out worse. As a prime example, many people thought the Conacher/Bishop trade was awful at the time and it’s turned out to be one of Yzerman’s best trades. A lot of people thought the Lindback trade was a great trade at the time and it’s been one of Yzerman’s worst.

Suffice to say, Yzerman has rarely made a mistake during his tenure as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. And that consistency has put the Lightning in a position to succeed for years to come.

Has Yzerman made some bad deals? Sure. Every general manager does. It’s the nature of the business. You try to make the best and most informed decisions that you can, but sometimes you jump in the wrong direction. Yzerman has well outweighed his bad decisions with his many A+ moves he’s made over the years.

But now the Lightning have made it to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth time in eight tries and third in the past four seasons. How many times have the Habs done that since Yzerman started with the Lightning? Once. And they’ve only made it past the first round twice in that span. So, who’s the great general manager again? It’s not Marc Bergevin. Its...

Steve. Yzerman.