11 May 2011
Touching on two things here, one on what the title is about and the other is what he said in today's conference call with the press.
Let's start with his 'success'.
Lots has been made about the dramatic one year turnaround that Steve Yzerman has done with the Lightning. But I think lately the press has been getting a little carried away with crowning him a success as a General Manager. Yes, the Lightning are doing much better than any fan had hoped for. After many dismal years of being a fan of the team, the hope was that Yzerman could make this team competitive. His goal was to get the team in the playoffs. That's it, just the playoffs. The expectation was not to even win a series, and most certainly was not to have the team appear in the Eastern Conference Finals. So it's great that we're still in it, but I think we can all agree that no one expected it.
Steve Yzerman has added some pieces to the Lightning but a lot of the key pieces pieces that we have on this team were here before Yzerman became the GM. The two players who have been lightning it up, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, were here before Yzerman was here. Steven Stamkos, already here. Victor Hedman, already here. Ryan Malone, already here. Steve Downie, already here. I'm sure you are getting my point, but what I'm pointing out, is that forming this team, was not all Steve Yzerman.
Yzerman inherited a lot of players on a team that didn't have an identity or direction. And that's where he improved it. He brought in coaching and hardworking players. He brought in solid goaltending and a top 2 defenceman in Eric Brewer. And most importantly, he brought the team direction.
So while its great to laud him as being a good GM from the team's initial success, I think this is premature.
Yzerman's success will be best measured in 5 years, when we can see if the team can be regularly competitive year after year. This early praise of his great work as GM just seems a little premature. Maybe we've headed in this direction because we've had so much time off and the media are running out of things to write, but let's not start congratulating him on being a success, as opposed to having just a surprisingly successful first year.
Now as for what he said during today's talk with the press, he did talk about why so many teams this year have been able to come from being down 3-0 or 3-1 in the series to push a Game 7. He said he didn't know why there were more but he did point out:
"The games are so close. Every game is a one-goal game. In the Pittsburgh series we lost Game 4 in overtime, but really played a good game. It came down to one shot and it went in. The San Jose-Detroit series is the same way. Every single game is one goal and could go either way. The teams that fall behind, as long as they don't get discouraged, and make any adjustment they see fit, there's always hope."
"It seems like once a year throughout the playoffs there is a significant comeback. The more comebacks that happen, the more teams believe, 'Hey, we can do this' or it's possible."
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On what parity has done for playoffs teams, "I don't think there is a big difference between the No. 1 seed and the No. 8 seed,". He explained that "Teams are well-prepared, the coaches spend hours and hours going over the opposition. There are no surprises. You know exactly how the other team plays. The preparation and the competitive parity around the league leads to all these games going right down to the wire."
When one reporter asking him about what he thought makes a good culture for the hockey team, Yzerman deflected saying that "the culture itself starts with the work ethic. Guys that love to play the game and have a good work ethic on the ice, off the ice".
As for an update on the injuries, Yzerman said that Simon Gagne has been skating and that the team is hopeful that he will play on Game 1. As for Pavel Kubina, things look more doubtful for him since he hasn't begun skating yet. He has been out with concussion-like symptoms since that he took that hit from Jason Chimera from Game 1 of the Lightning-Caps series.