Lightning Press Conference open thread / live blog

WHERE: Icons Restaurant, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: NHL Network (Cable), Bright House Sports Net (Cable), (Live Stream), (live stream), Fox Sports Florida (Live Stream)

With a little less than an hour until the Lightning press conference gets underway, I thought it would be appropriate to throw up the open thread and let the reactions begin early and in earnest.

Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings legend and Vice President of Hockey Operations, will be introduced by owner Jeffrey Vinik as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You can find live online streaming of the press conference on and at the Tampa Bay Lightning official web site. Or from Fox Sports Florida

The official press release is below the jump.

Hockey Hall-of-Famer, Long-Time Detroit Red Wing Takes Responsibility for Entire Hockey Operation

TAMPA BAY The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Steve Yzerman to be the team's Vice President, General Manager and Alternate Governor, Owner and Chairman Jeff Vinik announced today. Yzerman becomes the sixth general manager in Lightning history, bringing with him four Stanley Cup rings earned with the Detroit Red Wings as a player and executive as well as a Gold Medal, earned as the executive director of Hockey Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Yzerman will report directly to Vinik.

"I am thrilled to introduce Steve to the Tampa Bay community today," said Vinik. "I am confident that he is the right person to lead the Tampa Bay hockey team as we strive to become a world class organization. We are pleased Steve has elected to join the Lightning, bringing with him strong leadership qualities and a competitive desire to win through hard work and determination."

"Steve Yzerman is driven to succeed," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "His level of accomplishment - as a champion with the Detroit Red Wings and as a gold medal team builder with Team Canada - represents precisely the type of individual Jeff Vinik wants for the Tampa Bay Lightning: a person committed to the team, to achievement and to the fans."

Yzerman, 45, has spent the previous 27 seasons with the Red Wings as a player, captain and executive. He is a four-time Stanley Cup Champion, winning three as a player in 1997, 1998 and 2002 and another as a member of Detroit’s management team in 2008. Yzerman ranks sixth in NHL history for points with 1,755, seventh in assists with 1,063, eighth in goals with 692 and 13th in games played with 1,514. He spent 20 seasons as the captain in Detroit, the longest such tenure in NHL and major sports history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility.

After retiring from the game, Yzerman became an integral part of Hockey Canada’s management team. He served as general manager for Canada at the 2007 and 2008 IIHF World Championships, bringing home Gold and Silver respectively. He then led Hockey Canada to a magical moment this past February when his team defeated the United States in overtime to win the Gold Medal on home ice at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he served as executive director. Yzerman also won an Olympic Gold Medal as a player with Canada in 2002.

"I am extremely excited to join the Lightning organization as we look to re-establish the organization as one of the most respected in the NHL," Yzerman said. "There is a great nucleus here and Jeff is a proactive, enthusiastic and committed owner. I look forward to getting started right away."

Yzerman becomes the sixth general manager in Lightning franchise history, following Brian Lawton (2008-09 – 2009-10), Jay Feaster (2001-02 – 2007-08), Rick Dudley (1999-00 – 2001-02), Jacques Demers (1998-99) and Phil Esposito (1992-93 – 1998-99).

Lightning full and half season tickets for the 2010-11 season are now available. Lock in your seat now for the best possible price. Help Tampa Bay "Bring it Back" by calling 813.301.6600 or by visiting

[Note by John Fontana, 05/25/10 10:40 PM EDT ]NOTE: Thsi post has been edited to remove an innacurate number for Steve Yzerman's salary.