A fine profile of Steve Yzerman recalls some old wounds for Wings fans

The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore penned a fine profile of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, but it’s rather typical of any profile of Yzerman in that it does not include the GM’s comments.

Aside from the fact that he’s built a pretty damn good team that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup yet, I believe that Steve Yzerman would not be a good fit as the Red Wings’ general manager because he doesn’t like interacting with the media. The incredible level of scrutiny his managerial moves would result in, should he move back to his adopted hometown, would require regular interaction with a press corps that he tends to distrust, and has distrusted since Mitch Albom…maximized…his access to the Red Wings’ players in the 90’s.

Anyway, this isn’t Red Wings-related per se, but I think that Kilgore’s profile of Yzerman through people who are more comfortable interacting with members of the media is still worth your time:

When he arrived in 2010, Tampa Bay was a financial and competitive mess. Through his shrewd trades, sharp prospect identification and unflinching negotiation, the Lightning have advanced to five conference finals, including three in the past four years.

Yzerman became one of the most highly regarded NHL general managers by utterly rejecting a golden parachute. He works. He is known for his preparation and comprehensive knowledge of both the league and the salary cap. In a league where financial restrictions have caused immense turnover, Yzerman has managed to replenish his roster around a crucial core.

His current roster reads like a compendium of savvy decisions. Yzerman drafted forward Nikita Kucherov, a potential future Hart Trophy contender, in the second round in 2011, then signed him to a stunningly team-friendly extension that pays him an average of $4.766 million per season. He convinced franchise pillar Steven Stamkos to sign an eight-year extension on the even of his free agency. He turned disgruntled former top draft pick Jonathan Drouin into Mikhail Sergachev, who at 19 has become a key defenseman.

“There have been people I’ve dealt with in management working with teams who either don’t have a very good grasp of the players in their own organization,” longtime NHL agent Allan Walsh said. “Or they know their organization really well and don’t have a very good grasp of players around the league.

“He knows the players in his organization really well, including the players in the American League, including the players they’ve drafted. He has great knowledge of the players around the league. Obviously, he’s a legend when he played. And he was known as a player for being incredibly prepared, and having this tremendous work ethic. Lots of players who have gone on to either coach or work in management don’t always carry that work ethic with them.”

Kilgore continues, discussing Yzerman’s departure from the Red Wings–a departure which began something of a real “brain drain” which cost the Wings a significant number of front-office and scouting defections, and thus a drop in the team’s drafting and developing, which people like Jiri Fischer worked their butts off to resuscitate…

And I’m gathering that more of you will hold Ken Holland’s desire to continue managing the Wings against him than I would. I have always viewed Yzerman’s exit from the organization as somewhat inevitable–I have the feeling that he wanted no part of the “Joe Dumars experience”–and I don’t believe that he’s going to come back, even when Ken Holland eventually decides he’s done managing the Wings. But I’ve come to peace with that perspective, and I can’t say that it was easy.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

4 thoughts on “A fine profile of Steve Yzerman recalls some old wounds for Wings fans”

  1. A few people were arguing/discussing the “ifs” of if Yzerman was made GM over Holland. IDK, I don’t think he would have had the opportunity here as he had in Tampa. By that I mean, he was given(earned) full reign. I believe that here, the over loyalty thing would have been pressured from up above, especially in the early years. Just my opinion.

    Also, no way he comes back. Absolutely no reason.

    1. Mitch had some tremendous access to the players back in the day, in the mid-90’s. He as able to interview some of the Shawn Burr-era guys at their apartments, and the same was true for Yzerman. Albom’s novellas (he wrote long-form articles) about the players got a little too close at times, and I would argue that Albom’s level of access is one of the reasons that the Wings are so stingy with access to the team these days.

      1. Thanks George!

        I remember some columns about Burr, not that much about Yzerman (liked Burr more than him I guess).

        I never realized how close Albom was until recently, few years back, when he visited Datsyuk at his apartment and boom! – Pav is leaving NHL for Russia, and Albom is the man who comes with that first, exclusively.

        Good for Albom and his professional reputation, I guess.

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