Steve Yzerman did what he felt was best for himself and the Tampa Bay Lightning

Yzerman steps down as general manager and becomes a Senior Advisor to Julien BriseBois—for at least one season.

At yesterday’s press conference to formally announce that Steve Yzerman is stepping down from his role as General Manager, Yzerman was vintage Yzerman: concise, humble, and thoughtful. His reasoning focused on his desire to be with his family and on his own perception about how the job should be handled. In his words, “To do the job the way it needs to be done, the way I feel it needs to be done, and to ultimately be with my family as well, it was becoming difficult to do—hence the decision.”

It might not make sense to fans if we try to process it logically, especially without personally knowing the guy making the decision. This is why it was probably natural that we immediately saw a slew of fans criticize Yzerman’s decision to hand the reigns over to Julien BriseBois.

But the decision wasn’t a quick one.

Some fans will harp on the timing of this move—two days before camp starts for the team—but Yzerman and owner Jeff Vinik felt it was best to get the information out there as soon as they honed the final details. Yzerman has never been one to beat around the bush. He thought about this over the summer, hashed out the details of his new role with Vinik, and ultimately chose what he believed was best for himself and the organization.

In Julien BriseBois, the Lightning have promoted from within. The organization promoted someone who was Yzerman’s right-hand man for the past eight years, and who has repeatedly been on the short list for taking a general manager position at a variety of teams. He’s regarded as one of the sharpest minds in the league and has the full confidence of Yzerman and Vinik moving forward.

BriseBois will also have Yzerman as a Senior Advisor for this season. Unfortunately, Yzerman wouldn’t commit to anything beyond this season.

Both BriseBois and Vinik expressed their desire for Yzerman to stay with the organization after his contract expires, but would respect any decision Yzerman makes after next season.

Little will change with regard to how the Lightning will operate. BriseBois understands the organization, its people, its culture, and its plan.

Regardless, the decision was a shock for everyone in and out of the organization. It isn’t hyperbolic to say that nobody saw this coming. Yzerman has always kept his cards close to his chest.

Until this point, I’ve mostly been reporting on what Vinik, Yzerman, and BriseBois stated and haven’t provided my own opinion.

The move shocked me along with everyone else. But after attending the press conference, listening to what Vinik, Yzerman, and BriseBois had to say, and digesting it all, I can safely say I’m content with the move. Anyone harping on Yzerman for his “timing” because camp is two days away is digging for attention. He’s always done things his way and has always  been up front about any decision he’s made.

Whether or not the Lightning win a Stanley Cup in the next few years, Yzerman will be remembered for the many positive things he did with the organization. The Lightning were a joke of a franchise before Vinik and Yzerman. It was Yzerman’s vision that righted the ship and established the methodology that now directs the franchise forward.

He built this team, reignited a fanbase’s passion for hockey, and saved hockey in the Tampa Bay area. Without Yzerman, the Lightning would’ve either continued to be a joke or nonexistent. He’s more than earned the right to step down when he wants. To criticize his desire to be with his family is hilariously selfish and reinforces the point that our editor Alan made in his piece about fandom.

Yzerman was adamant in one-on-one interviews that his reasoning was centered on the fact  he wanted to spend more time with his family (he has three daughters in college and still commutes from his Michigan home). Yes, speculation will run rampant once his contract expires after next season, especially with the Detroit Red Wings looking to shuffle their front office once Ken Holland’s contract expires. But he’s given us his time, and once his contract is over, it’s no longer our business.

The best thing we all can do to honor his time spent with us is support him and thank him for everything he’s done.

Let’s hope the team can finally get over the hump and win a Stanley Cup so his efforts won’t be unrewarded.

Thank you, Steve, for re-establishing the Lightning as a respectable franchise in the NHL and rekindling the passion of a fanbase that was starving for a professional sports team it could be proud of. The fans will always be thankful to you for that.