With the shocking news of Steve Yzerman stepping down as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, many fans are left wondering about the new person in charge. Julien BriseBois takes over after spending the last eight seasons under Yzerman as an Assistant General Manager. Assistant GMs general toil in the shadows, playing an important part in the front office while often not getting the same kind of spotlight that the General Manager or even the Director of Scouting get.
BriseBois got his start in hockey with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2001-02 season as their director of legal affairs. BriseBois comes from a law background working with the Heenan Blaikie law firm. He worked in sports law and worked with NHL and MLB teams on arbitration cases and contract negotiations. In 2003-04, he moved into a position as Director of Hockey Operations and eventually Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Canadiens, including three years as the General Manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal’s AHL affiliate at that time.
When Steve Yzerman was hired as General Manager in 2010 by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Yzerman brought in BriseBois as an Assistant General Manager and the General Manager of the club’s AHL affiliate; first the Norfolk Admirals and then the Syracuse Crunch when the affiliation changed in 2012-13.
According to the team web site’s bio of BriseBois, he has reported directly to Steve Yzerman and “assists him in all aspects of player personnel decisions, analytics, player development, contract preparation and negotiation” as well as salary arbitration and interpretation of the CBA and salary cap. Without a doubt, BriseBois has been a steady contributor behind the scenes to the Lightning’s success.
How much BriseBois has contributed is certainly up to debate as none of us are inside the front office to be able to answer how much of an influence he has. My personal opinion though is that he has been a major force in the front office and that he is a respected voice. That opinion is reinforced by the fact that his name has been a near constant candidate for various GM openings over the last few years. He also reportedly signed a new contract that would keep him in the AGM role and did not include an out for him to leave for another general manager position.
To me, it is clear that Yzerman has the confidence in BriseBois that he can continue to build upon the foundation that Yzerman and BriseBois’ combined to create. I don’t feel that Yzerman is the type of person that would leave the organization in a poor position. That eases my fears a little bit, but of course, only time will tell how good of a general manager BriseBois will be.
Further to that, is that there are still a lot of talented people in the front office that have had an influence on the team and will continue to influence the team going forward. BriseBois will still have Pat Verbeek as an AGM and Director of Player Personnel, a role he’s held since 2012-13. Stacy Roest continues as Director of Player Development which he has been since 2013-14. Al Murray continues as Director of Amateur Scouting and Jamie Pushor as Director of Professional Scouting both of whom joined the team in 2010-11. All of this talent is still here and will continue to be here to assist BriseBois with running the front office.
BriseBois has some big shoes to fill. I am cautiously optimistic that he will continue the team on the path that Steve Yzerman has put them on. And lead this team to a Stanley Cup Championship.