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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 1:00 am

Yzerman leaves Lightning GM post

Cites family as reason for shift to senior adviser

STEPHEN WHYNO | Associated Press

Steve Yzerman stepped down as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning after building them into a perennial contender, handing the reins to longtime assistant Julien BriseBois just two days before training camp.

Yzerman will move to a senior adviser role working under BriseBois and said he was “100 percent committed” to the Lightning this season. Beyond that, Yzerman's future is cloudy.

“I feel this change in role is important for me to allow me to spend more time with my family and to still make sure the Lightning is managed to the level everyone has come to expect,” Yzerman said Tuesday. “We are all delighted that Julien is our next GM. He is more than ready.”

It was a surprising move for a powerhouse team, one that reached the Eastern Conference final last season. The 53-year-old Yzerman spent the past eight seasons as Tampa Bay's GM, a tenure that included five playoff appearances, three trips to the conference final and an appearance in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

He said he came to the decision in late July not to sign another contract as GM and that it took until now to iron out details on what to do next. Yzerman's family has remained in Detroit, and he commuted during his time on the job.

“We felt it was important to let everyone know what we were doing, end any potential speculation,” Yzerman said. “We have a plan here. We come up with a plan, we like our plan, let's put it in place.”

The plan is the 41-year-old BriseBois who had been an assistant to Yzerman since they joined the Lightning in 2010. For a number of years, he has been considered a future NHL general manager, and owner Jeff Vinik said the Lightning were lucky BriseBois wasn't hired by someone else.

Instead, BriseBois takes over a team that should contend for years to come.

Yzerman, a Hall of Fame center with the Detroit Red Wings who won the Cup three times as a player, went into management immediately after retiring. He began his front-office career as vice president of hockey operations under GM Ken Holland in Detroit and was part of a Cup winner in 2008 before getting the head job with the Lightning.

Holland signed a two-year contract extension at the end of last season to stay on as Red Wings GM.