Why Steve Yzerman’s Extension in Tampa is Good for Detroit

So the news broke on Monday 7th April that Steve Yzerman will have his contract extended by Tampa Bay for four years. Which seemingly upset a few Red Wings fans. Some of the same fans who seem to think that Ken Holland should be replaced as soon as possible.

So before I get to Stevie, let me first address those fans. Guys, REALLY?!?! A few seasons where we haven’t been the all dominating force that we had been from the 90’s until recently, does not a bad GM make.

The NHL is a league that is designed to have parity, which means the teams that fail to do well for a few years can stock up on talent and rise to the top (EDITOR’S NOTE: Go Oilers…!).  A league that has a cap in place that is designed to stop teams buying their way to the Stanley Cup year in year out.

Look at Pittsburgh as an example, they were poor for a while, got some great picks and also found the modern day Wayne Gretzky in Sidney Crosby. Detroit, however, are on the cusp of a 23rd consecutive post season appearance, a streak that cannot be touched by any other team in any of the other major sports at this time. (Even the Undertaker, who was the biggest threat, is now 21-1)

Secret To Their Success

Why is this? It is down to a General Manager who has made a habit of making sure he has the people around him to help the Wings run at their peak year in year out. This goes from having the right coaching staff, which isn’t easy as replacing Scotty Bowman should have been nigh on impossible, yet here is Mike Babcock who is now a nine year stalwart of the franchise, in an era where head coaches come and go at quite the pace. Save for Barry Trotz in Nashville, none come close to Babcock’s time in Detroit at this moment.

Stability has always been the name of the game in Detroit, the Ilitch family trust in Ken Holland, who trusts in his coaches, who trust in their players. Let’s face it, the last few years haven’t been easy, with the heart of the team ripped out in recent years; gone are Rafalski, Osgood, Stuart, Lidstrom, Draper and others. Many of the names to call it a day aren’t just journeymen who happened to have a couple of years in Detroit, these are guys who have BEEN Detroit.

Add those losses to the injuries and the fact the Red Wings are still fighting for a playoff place is remarkable. It comes from great scouting and unbelievable drafting over the years. Zetterberg and Datysuk are well known for coming late in the draft, but there are also other talents too, with Nyquist being one of the most recent and looking to continue that trend of finding the diamond in the rough.

Model Manager

That, no matter how much you want to think it is, is not down to luck. It is down to being a good leader and as stated, having the right people for the right jobs at the right time. Yet Kenny Holland doesn’t hold people back – many have carved out careers for themselves at other teams, whether it be as coaches, or in the back office. Losing Jim Nill is still one of the toughest losses from the organisation. Then there is Todd McLellan at San Jose…To be honest, we could go on all day about guys doing a great job elsewhere, who used to be part of Kenny Holland’s setup.

So to those who want to question his value to the franchise… Just shut up, the man knows what is best for Detroit.

Yzermania

That takes me on to Steve Yzerman. He is the reason I love the Red Wings! Number 19 was and still is a hero to many, and to almost everyone he is the natural successor to Ken Holland as Red Wings GM. Yet that time isn’t now and not just because he has a new contract in Tampa. The time just isn’t right for the hand over.

So this is why spending more time at a franchise like Tampa Bay is good. They are a team on the up, but that isn’t quite there yet, they have a lot of talent, both already on the roster and breaking through, yet they still need a strong leader to make that next step. They need someone who can make the tough decisions and in that they have Steve Yzerman.

Relieving Guy Boucher of his duties wasn’t an easy decision, but it was one that has shown Stevie has what it takes to make that big decision, with Jon Cooper coming in and doing a (so far) great job, even managing an injury to their marquee player in Steve Stamkos.

Stevie is doing such a good job there, that his Tampa Bay Lightning team will finish the regular season ahead of his beloved Detroit Red Wings. Goaltending seems to be sorted there, when at one point it looked to be the weak link, and they have some amazing new talent on the roster… just look at Ondrej Palat.

But no matter how well Yzerman is doing in Tampa, he is not ready for the Red Wings quite yet.  His time will come, and I firmly believe he will be the new GM when Kenny Holland does call it a day.

Earning His Stripes

Now many could argue that Yzerman’s loyalties should be with Detroit and like other former players he should have a role in the back office. Yet is that really best for the fans elected replacement for Kenny Holland? He could shadow him for sure, but what  would that really achieve? He wouldn’t have to make the touch decisions, he wouldn’t be the one in control, he would merely be watching, taking on advice over the next few years, with maybe a little input.

Yet, send him out, let him run a team all of his own, he gets that vital experience, he has no choice but to make those big decisions, he has to live and die by his own actions, be they right or wrong. He has to suffer the consequences. Being just another part of the Red Wings front office won’t offer him that experience.

Because he will have six or more years as a GM, when the time does come, the Red Wings will know whether he is the right man for the job, they will have seen exactly what his is capable of and if he really is the right man for the job. A ready made package with experience, makes for a smoother transition, a much more stable change, which after all, is something the Red Wings have been built on for the last quarter of a century.

So please. Trust the people who have run this team so well, for so long!

Follow Brad on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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