TAMPA — A week after clinching a second playoff berth in four years, the Tampa Bay Lightning signed general manager Steve Yzerman to a four-year contract extension on Monday.
Since Yzerman was hired in May 2010, the Lightning are 144-114-32 with two playoff appearances, including a 2011 run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Tampa Bay clinched a playoff berth last week following a 3-1 victory against Montreal and is third in the Atlantic Division heading into Tuesday's game against Toronto.
The team also announced that chief operating officer Steve Griggs was promoted to president of the Lightning and The Forum.
Yzerman has one year remaining on his original contract, so the extension is through the 2018-19 season.
“Since the day Steve agreed to serve as our vice president and general manager, he has worked tirelessly to transform our hockey department and establish the groundwork for sustained success,” Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in a statement.
“We are very pleased with Steve's job performance thus far, and I am fully confident Steve remains the right person to continue to lead us. Organizationally, we remain committed to playing at the highest levels each season – regularly competing for the Stanley Cup – and I am very pleased that Steve has elected to be our leader for the next several years.''
The first four years of Yzerman's tenure saw their share of successes, including reaching the 2011 Eastern Conference final. They also had pitfalls, including the firing of head coach Guy Boucher in Year Three, buying out the contract of former captain Vinny Lecavalier and the controversial exit of Marty St. Louis, who requested a trade and was dealt to the New York Rangers on March 5.
But the path Yzerman laid out when he was hired remains intact as he tries to turn the Lightning into an annual playoff team with the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup.
“I think as an organization as a whole and a team we are going in the right direction and I want to continue with the process,'' Yzerman said. “I'm grateful to get the opportunity to continue.''
Tampa Bay's minor league system has also enjoyed success, qualifying for the American Hockey League playoffs three times, including a Calder Cup championship in 2012 while affiliated with Norfolk and a runner-up finish in 2013 after switching affiliates to Syracuse.
Though the Crunch will not qualify for the AHL playoffs this season, the Lightning farm system has been among the best in hockey during Yzerman's tenure. The system has two of the top young prospects in hockey, 2013 third-overall pick Jonathan Drouin and 2012 first-round pick goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy.
After 22 years with the Red Wings as a player, leading Detroit to three Stanley Cup championships as team captain, Yzerman spent four years as an executive learning under Detroit general manager Ken Holland. That opportunity provided the groundwork for understanding how to deal with all that has come his way – expected and unexpected – during his first four years in charge of the Lightning.
“Those years listening and learning proved greatly beneficial, but until you are in that seat and making those decisions, then you really understand ... it's a difficult job,'' Yzerman said.
“There are hard decisions you have to make; you are affecting people's lives. So, I've learned a lot and I think I'm better than I was four years ago and even more prepared. I expect to learn a lot; there are always situations coming up that you have never dealt with and you learn from it.''