The profound silence of the Lightning executive hunt
Chris Botta, writing for NHL Fanhouse, broke the news yesterday that reports of Steve Yzerman's demise as a GM candidate in Tampa Bay have been greatly exaggerated.
Over the past two weeks, there had been two online reports from separate sources, suggesting Yzerman was out: John Boruk of Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia had reported via Twitter that Yzerman had dropped out. The second report came last week by way of The Fourth Period.
Botta pointed out in his article that the Fourth Period post has been modified on their web site, dropping the Yzerman-is-out reference. Bolt fans can find a link to the story at Lightning Shout, or see the original version that includes the Yzerman reference through Google Cache.
While Botta's report on Yzerman (which was backed up by TSN's Bob McKenzie) shows that the team and the Red Wings great are still talking, it's what others are not saying that sheds more intrigue on the Tampa Bay GM and CEO search.
We put up a quote on the site last night from the close of the Botta article:
"The first thing the Lightning tell guys in for interviews isn't a question, but a demand. They say, 'Do not speak to the press or anyone else.' What's implied is that if your name gets out in the media, you may not be a candidate for long."
Erik Erlendsson at the Tampa Tribune took that news and ran with it in an excellent blog post. He pointed out other potential candidates by way of deduction - a "no comment" brings with it the potential that said-person has interviewed for the Lightning GM job. Remarking on the gag-order from the club, Erlendsson writes:
This is something which I have heard through various conversations, as well, and would make sense given the lack of comments coming from anybody who might be up for the job.
I greatly encourage you to read the rest of his article, as other GM candidate names and observations are discussed.
While all the focus from these revelations tends to be on the Lightning GM search, it should not be forgotten that this also applies for the Lightning CEO search.
When TSN originally reported the Lightning had asked for (and received) permission to talk to Steve Yzerman about the GM vacancy, they also mentioned Vulcan Sports CEO Tod Leiweke as candidate-one for the Lightning CEO position. There soon came a blanket denial of this report from the Seattle Seahawks, and some dressing-down of hockey by football bloggers, as well as other poorly written stories that attempted to dismiss the Leiweke-to-TB rumor.
What can't be denied is that through all that brouhaha, Leiweke himself never said a word in public. We pointed out as much here:
...There is only one denial of TSN's report from Wednesday -- and that denial is no longer cited by Seattle media. Maybe there is some substance to the TSN rumor? ....A substantive, absolute denial is lacking... And until it comes out (or someone else is ultimately hired by Jeff Vinik to run the Bolts), there will be continued speculation as to Leiweke's future.
Leiweke's silence remains a truth to this day. He may no longer be Vinik's top choice as CEO, but there is no evidence that he is truly out of the running and no longer in talks with Jeff Vinik.
While the silence is un-nerving to fans who expected a hiring to have happened by this point, Botta's story should encourage swapping of doubts, and replacing them with curiosity. While a silence prevails, it's an anxious one more than awkward.