Detroit Red Wings officially name Steve Yzerman new general manager
Yzerman is returning to Hockeytown
Steve Yzerman is going back to Detroit. The Red Wings legend and former Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Yzerman was named general manager of the Red Wings in a press conference on Friday, flanked by Chris Ilitch and Ken Holland.
Throughout the conference, which was attended by the likes of Kris Draper and Henrik Zetterberg, Yzerman emphasized that he wished he'd won a championship in Tampa Bay but that he was glad to be back in Detroit. He called Tampa "a fantastic hockey town," adding "they're close, and I hope they do get that Stanley Cup."
Yzerman was the Lightning's general manager from 2010 until the end of last year. He abruptly stepped down before this regular season began. Tampa Bay made the playoffs five times under Yzerman's supervision, which does not include this year's shockingly early exit. They made the Stanley Cup Finals once with Yzerman at the helm, where they lost to the Blackhawks in six games.
Yzerman will take over a Red Wings team that is in the midst of a rebuild and has missed the playoffs for the past three seasons. Detroit's rebuild began when it had its 25-season postseason streak snapped after the 2015-16 campaign. It's now up to Yzerman to come in and bring franchise back the glory, but he hammered home that it's not going to be an overnight process.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Yzerman said. "But depending on your age, you know that this takes time. We've been through this before. It's up and down for an organization, it takes time and I caution everyone to temper the excitement -- that this is going to take time. I cannot give you a specific linear timeline, but we will do the things necessary."
What the regime change, Ken Holland is staying with Detroit in the role of senior vice president. He had served as the Wings' GM since 1997. Holland and head coach Jeff Blashill signed two-year extensions with the Red Wings before the end of last season, and Yzerman and Ilitch both expressed unwavering support for them.
"Nobody has worked harder to bring success to the Detroit Red Wings than Ken Holland," Ilitch said. "He's been an amazing general manager for our organization."
Yzerman added praise for Holland and reiterated support for Blashill as well.
"We have an excellent young coach in Jeff Blashill, he's had success at every level he's coached at," Yzerman said. "I had the -- I guess good fortune and bad fortune -- of our minor league team in Syracuse playing... Grand Rapids in the finals and we lost a hard-fought, six-game series against Grand Rapids, a team coached by Jeff, and it stood out to me what an excellent job he did with that team and managing his team and the way they played."
This past season, the Red Wings went 32-40-10. Dylan Larkin looked returned to form after a lackluster 2016 season, notching a career-high 73 points -- 32 of which came on goals. Larkin is under contract until the 2023 season. All of the Wings' top five scorers were under 30 last year, with Gustav Nyquist -- who was traded to the Sharks mid-season -- as the only outlier. Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha make up the Red Wings' key core, and they have another lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
"I believe the foundation is here for a good core of players, and it's the foundation for a core, and it takes a pretty good number of players to have that core," Yzerman said. "I think we're off to a tremendous start as you watch the team this year."
Yzerman will also inherit some of Holland's bemoaned legacy contracts, including those of Justin Abdelkader (free agent in 2023), Danny DeKeyser (free agent in 2022) and Darren Helm (free agent in 2021).
The Lightning's current roster was constructed by Yzerman. He stepped down before the season began, but he is the architect of the team that had historic regular season success, setting a modern wins record with 62 before the were swept out of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In his time with the Red Wings as a player, Yzerman, who was the team captain for two decades, won three Stanley Cups and is one of the most celebrated players in franchise history.
Detroit has spent the past three seasons in mediocrity, and hope Yzerman can set the team straight. His hiring puts pressure on the Rangers, who had a pipe dream of landing Yzerman to complete their rebuild.
Yzerman's return will be heralded in Detroit, and now he'll face more pressure as a front office member than he ever has. He was most praised in Tampa for his ability to come out on top in trades. The Red Wings may not be in a position to fleece teams in trades just yet, but Yzerman has a window to get to that point and create a roster he thinks will succeed.
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