In a National Hockey League stunner, Steve Yzerman will step down as Tampa Bay Lightning general manager just days before the start of training camp, the team announced on Monday. Yzerman's assistant GM since 2010, Julien BriseBois, is expected to take over the position.
Yzerman told the Lightning players that he's "going home to Detroit", according to Helene St. James of the Free Press.
During his eight-year tenure with the Lightning, he helped the club reach the playoffs on five occasions, the Eastern Conference Final three times, and the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, where the team ultimately fell to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Vinik told The Athletic in May he was hopeful and optimistic. He is considered to easily be one of, if not the best general manager in the entire league with how he turned the Lightning around from basement dweller to a Stanley Cup contender year after year.
Yzerman let his players know of his decision on Tuesday and will move into an advisory role with the team.
Yzerman had signed a four-year extension with Tampa Bay on April 7, 2014, which ran through the 2018-19 season.
The details surrounding why exactly Yzerman is stepping down remain a mystery, though there's no shortage of speculation already. The Hall of Famer joined the Red Wings front office, leaving in 2010 for the Lighting GM job. He promoted Jon Cooper to head coach in 2013, re-signed captain Steven Stamkos and locked up defenceman Victor Hedman to a long-term deal in 2016, traded for J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh at last year's trade deadline and got Nikita Kucherov signed to an extension this summer.
"Over the course of the last couple of years, there's been moments to reflect on my situation", Yzerman said.