Yzerman Exit – A Hidden Blessing

Steve Yzerman was never meant to be the GM of the Red Wings at this stage in his young post-playing career. Only four years after he last stepped off the ice in Edmonton, Yzerman played it quiet in the background of the Red Wings executive staff, waiting for the right opening. Now, following his success with the Canadian Olympic team, Yzerman will try to create some magic with a young Tampa Bay Lightning team.

His departure may actually be a good thing for fans hoping for players like Nicklas Lidstrom to return next season. Lidstrom, whether he says it or not, has remained in the shadow of Yzerman ever since he placed the “C” on his sweater. Fans have warmed to Lidstrom, but not as much as they did for Stevie Y. It still didn’t feel right in 2008 when Lidstrom held the Stanley Cup high above his head, and it’s not his fault. After Montana there was Young, after Granderson there is Jackson – Lidstrom just happened to be an excellent athlete following another of his kind.

GM Ken Holland will also benefit from not having the “young kid” breathing down his neck. After all, it was Holland’s team that barely made it to the second round in the 2010 playoffs. The Red Wings have not won a Cup in more than 55 years without someone named Yzerman associated with the organization, and it’s up to Holland to demonstrate that 2008 was surely no fluke. While Yzerman probably had next to nothing to deal with that 2008 team, the memory of Red Wings fans is limited.

The presence of Steve Yzerman around the Red Wings organization has only been a good thing for his nearly three decades with the team. Young players have benefited from his great experience and knowledge of the game, and fans were given the honor to witness a revival of hockey in this town. His departure is a great loss for the team, but don’t think for one minute that this will cause any sort of slip-up.