Last week, Joe Smith at The Athletic sat down (or called, or Zoomed, who knows how they’re doing interviews these days) with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and discussed a range of topics, including a brief comment on the future of his general manager, Julien BriseBoise.
BriseBois is entering the final year of his contract. Have talks started on that? How optimistic are you in a long-term extension?
Julien has done a tremendous job. I believe he’s done a tremendous job. He’s a tremendous person. And there’s tremendous odds we’ll extend his contract.
Credit to Mr. Vinik for using the word “tremendous” four times in a three-second quote. However, he didn’t actually answer the question on if talks have started about an extension. As Joe pointed out in his next question, the odds were pretty good that Steve Yzerman was going to stick around as GM as well and that didn’t quite happen.
There are a lot of reasons why an official contract for the GM wouldn’t be top of mind. Number one being that they have a handshake agreement done and just haven’t worked out the details. Also, Mr. BriseBois has been a little busy this summer dealing with the expansion draft, finally working out a trade for Tyler Johnson, signing a few free agents, and, oh yeah, celebrating back-to-back Stanley Cups.
By all indications Mr. BriseBois is content in Tampa and there aren’t any signs that he’s looking to bolt from his current gig. Still, his contract is in its final year and the architect of back-to-back Stanley Cups would be in high demand across the league. Who wouldn’t want to throw bags of money at him to run their hockey operations? Having reached the top of the mountain (twice) with the Lightning, could he be ready for a new challenge?
It’s also worth noting that it appears that Marc Bergevin also has one year left on his contract in Montreal and if they fail to follow up on their success from last season, his job could be in jeopardy. Wouldn’t it make for a nice story if BriseBois heads to Montreal, the organization he got his start with, to put them over the top?
Again I must emphasize that this is an exercise in pure speculation, after all it is the final month of the offseason and there isn’t much to talk about, but until he signs an extension (which will probably be five minutes after this posts) it seems a valid question.
Since this is the internet and having a cynical outlook on things seems to be the default setting, it’s possible that Mr. BriseBois sees an aging core of players, little flexibility in regards to the salary cap, a stable of prospects that have some solid players but no top-tier talent, a shrinking window of opportunity to win another cup, and decides to cut his losses and move on. Might as well go out on top while his value is at it’s highest right?
He doesn’t strike me as that type of general manager though. The Lightning organization has thrived on loyalty and stability during the Vinik Era and cutting out early doesn’t seem to be in his make-up. In fact, he seems to bask in the challenge of succeeding when things are stacked against him.
Still, despite basking in the role of being a problem solver, it is possible he is ready for a new situation or problem to fix. While the salary cap woes have certainly been difficult for him to maneuver around over the past couple of seasons, he might also be tired of dealing with them. He could want a completely clean slate to build his own team. For as much work as he’s put in over the past three seasons, there are still some (not us) who refer to the Lightning as a team built by Mr. Yzerman. Maybe Mr. BriseBois wants to build a team with his only his fingerprints on it to put those naysayers to shame.
For our sake, hopefully he isn’t getting wandering eyes and sticks it out for this run the Lightning are on.
We plowed through two more players on our Top 25 Under 25 rankings. Dylan Duke and Declan McDonnell are at different stages in their career, but could end up being solid depth players for the Lightning in the not-to-distant future. [Dylan Duke #23 and Declan McDonnell #22]
Steven Stamkos is staying in Tampa! Not that there were any valid trade rumors about him, but anytime a local athlete sells his house it causes a little speculation. A few weeks after selling their house in Davis Island, the Stamkos’ bought a house in...Davis Island. Guess they like the neighborhood. [Stamkos buys Davis Island house - subscription (or really fast reading skills required]
Last season wasn’t the first time the Syracuse Crunch went through a season with dual NHL affiliates. Way back in 1997 they were the AHL affiliate of the Penguins and Canucks. A nice look at that history and how last season’s dual partnership helped out the franchise. Hey, we recognize a name in that column! [The Daily Orange]
“Everything ends badly or it wouldn’t end at all” Brian Flanagan’s words apply to a lot of things in the sports world. The folks over at Bleacher Report take a look at six NHL’ers whose tenure with one team ended less than gracefully. Why, yes, Marty St. Louis is on the list. [6 NHL breakups that led to blockbuster trades]
Anders Nilsson was technically part of the Lightning organization last year as they brought on his contract in order to maximize their LTIR money. He never skated for them and probably never even had a jersey made with his name on it. He recently spoke about the injury that kept him off the ice since the 2019-20 season. [Nilsson details concussion symptoms that ended his career]
It’s always fun to pick on the Lightning’s fellow expansion organization, the Ottawa Senators, because well...it is. After all, they hired Pierre McGuire. Give them credit, however, for sticking with GM Pierre Dorion. The organization announced that they had extended their GM through the 2024-25 season. For a team that has been through a long rebuild that is finally showing some signs of life, keeping some sense of stability in the front office is a good sign. [Ottawa Senators extend contract of Pierre Dorion]
The Philadelphia Flyers will be inducting players into their hall of fame for the first time since 2016. On Tuesday they released the names of the six finalists under consideration for the honor. Among them are two former Lightning players (Simon Gange and Mark Recchi) and one former Lightning head coach (Rick Tocchet). Paul Holmgren, Bob Kelly, and Lou Nolan are also among the final six. [Flyers announce six finalists for Hall of Fame induction]
The NWHL has re-branded as the Premier Hockey Federation. In doing so, they became the first major women’s professional league in North America to remove the word “women’s” from its title. As Madison Packer, captain of the Metropolitan Riveters put it,
“I understand and appreciate not having to define ourselves as female athletes anymore. Now we are defining players based on skill and what they bring to the game.”
The six-team league will begin their season on November 6. [NWHL re-brands as PHF]