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Steve Yzerman, the worst GM in the league? I don’t think so, Barry. Unfortunately, you are way off base here. In just a short amount of time with the Lightning, Yzerman has done much more than make a few roster changes; he has created a culture. It’s the culture and aura that followed him around in Detroit and with Hockey Canada. The Tampa Bay Lightning franchise is on its way to becoming one of the premier franchises in the league. In fact, I’d go as far as to argue that Dean Lombardi is a worse General Manager than Steve Yzerman.

Let’s start out with the most important move that Yzerman has made since arriving in Tampa; he signed Steven Stamkos. Stammer, who is on pace to possibly break the 60 goal mark this year, comes with a cap hit of $7.5million. For the top goal scorer in the league, that sounds like a pretty good contract to me. But hold on fans, my mistake. We could have Anze Kopitar, the prized possession of Dean Lombardi, signed for $6.8million per over the same term. Hold on just another second, isn’t it true that Kopitar struggles to reach the 30 goal mark every single year? Yes, my goodness it is. We get double the output, for 700K more. It sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

I’m not even going to dive into the fact that Dean Lombardi is even more unwilling to make changes than Yzerman. As a Kings follower as well, I can tell you that this guy sticks to his plan like there’s no tomorrow. Things aren’t going well down here in Tampa, but this is year two of a long rebuilding process. The Kings are in year five and they may not even make the playoffs. To me, that speaks volumes. Along with that, how is it that the Kings never managed to just will themselves into a playoff spot like the Bolts did last season. Barry brings up that we had 103 points and made a long playoff run. Yes, the Bolts did make a long playoff run. They did it, not with depth, but with heart and determination. That’s something that comes with the culture Yzerman is trying to create in Tampa. I don’t see it in Los Angeles.

While it would be interesting to compare contracts that each respective GM has signed off on, it would take too long and just get a little dull. What I will say is that Steve Yzerman is doing exactly what the Lightning need him to do. He is focusing on building a prospect pool, signing key cogs to fair, affordable deals and doing it all with the utmost integrity. So while he may not be the fastest to “act” as Barry puts it, he’s also not the fastest to panic. He understands that this group has got a lot of nice pieces. Mark my words, Steve Yzerman will build a winner in Tampa Bay long before Dean Lombardi will ever build one in Los Angeles.

Sorry, Barry. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.

Now let’s get on to the game preview here. I’m going to stop with all this optimistic “we can make the playoffs” mumbo jumbo. Sorry folks, that ship has sailed. This team has all but sealed its fate this year. That’s not to say that all this is a bad thing in the long run, but right now, it’s surely disappointing.

The Pittsburgh Penguins come into the game having just snapped a six game losing streak (hey, sound familiar?). With a loss, the Lightning would find themselves with seven in the month of January. To put that in perspective, the Canucks had 28 losses all season long last year. As you’ve probably gathered, 2012 hasn’t been overly kind to the Lightning. Without a win, you can bet that it’s starting to get into the players’ heads.

If there’s one saving grace, it’s that the Lightning have beaten the Penguins in the teams’ last two meetings. It goes without saying that not having Sidney Crosby in the line-up may have altered the outcome. All the Lightning can hope for is a solid effort. Take a look at this little run against the Penguins and use that as a confidence booster and motivation. Don’t act like this is just another one of 82; this is a game that they can win.

The Lightning NEED to have a good start. The whole concept of starting a game seems to have been somewhat of a disaster for the last week or two. This team comes out flat, disinterested and slow each and every single game. The players have to understand that leaving things to the third period every night isn’t a good recipe for victory. Steven Stamkos had this to say on the issue:

"It's been too many of those this year where we deserve to win and we don't and some where we play like crap and we do lose so it's frustrating," Stamkos said. (lightning.nhl.com)

Unfortunately for Stamkos, the NHL isn’t league of “should wins vs. should loses.” All 30 teams are in the business of putting up actual Ws. That’s what the Lightning need to understand. Stop blaming the officiating, don’t talk to fans about the slow starts; go out and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! I couldn’t care less if this team went 0-39-0 at this point. As long as the effort is there, and we see the drive, the want and the frustration, I’ll be happy.

This is going to be an interesting game. On the one hand, it looks very winnable. On the other hand, the Penguins are well coached, disciplined and hard working. That’s exactly what the Lightning need to be right now. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late. Before I sign off on this blog, here’s a fun fact for the day.

Dwayne Roloson hasn’t won a game since November.

Thanks for reading and have a great day, folks!

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
Filed Under:   tampa   bay   lightning   steve   yzerman   pittsburgh   penguins  
January 14, 2012 5:09 PM ET | Delete
Worst GM in the league? Pierre Gauthier.
January 14, 2012 6:22 PM ET | Delete
Thats an easy call.......Garth Snow on the Island....
January 14, 2012 6:45 PM ET | Delete
Both VERY good options for the award
January 14, 2012 7:27 PM ET | Delete
It's Barry Melrose? Who cares what he thinks?
January 14, 2012 7:28 PM ET | Delete
So in 1 year Yzerman has gone fromGM of the year to worst ever? must be smoking some of the legalized greenies out in LA. He's cleaning up a mess the TRUE worst GM of all time Brian Layton right now, which is going to take time. is it frustrating absolutely,but when you contract like Online, Malone, and Vinny left what do you expect.
January 14, 2012 7:56 PM ET | Delete
Oomroy, obviously it's frustrating to be a fan right now. I think we'd all agree. That said, I have faith in Yzerman's abilities as a GM.
January 14, 2012 7:58 PM ET | Delete
Yzerman is doing a great job cleaning up the mess as you point out. People need to realize that's not going to happen over night.
January 14, 2012 10:38 PM ET | Delete
TB was running in mediocrity before SY arrived. In his first season he took the team to 103 points and within 1 goal of the Cup finals. I would have thought his benefit of the doubt would have lasted longer than 6 months. He clearly wants to make a trade, there are just no reasonable trades to be made. Gauthier or Howson get my vote.
January 14, 2012 10:41 PM ET | Delete
Agreed Alex!
January 14, 2012 11:40 PM ET | Delete
Kopitar isn't primarily a goal scorer, I doubt you ever saw him play. He's one of the top two way forwards in the league and plays great defense and offense, finished in the top 10 for Selke voting last year, and is about a point per game player every year. Stamkos is primarily a goal scorer. Learn what you're talking about. Does Henrik Sedin reach 30 goals a year and he's making a lot? No he just gets like 70 assists, wow he must suck if he doesn't score.
January 15, 2012 10:03 AM ET | Delete
Auto correct sucks, but what i was getting at is Steevie Y is the right guy down here and will do what it takes to fix the problems. He'e not going to kill our future for today plus he's not a Burke who runs his mouth constantly. Give it another year or so and this team WILL be a true force in the league. Like he has always said the Trade MUST make sense if it requires draft picks
January 15, 2012 10:15 AM ET | Delete
@isles21beast. Perhaps you should take some of you own advice. In 2 seasons he has come close to a point per game season. 438 games 399 points and -15.
January 15, 2012 12:14 PM ET | Delete
Worst GM is a no-brainer...It's Mr Lou Lamoriello!!!......well i will say Stevie Y is doing a good job in Tampa and soon Tampa will be back. They have some really good talent. Actually Lombardi is probably doing a worst of a job then SY. He loses prospects to overseas leagues, make bad trades and the Kings seem to always underachieve as an organization. Weren't they considered a cup-contender this year? I'm surprised Matt didn't bash his own GM.
January 15, 2012 1:55 PM ET | Delete
isle21beas: Along with the Lightning, I follow the Kings. I watch a good portion of their games. I was a huge fan of Kopi years ago but his development has stalled.
January 15, 2012 2:29 PM ET | Delete
why is it that we always start playing better after going down 2-0?
January 15, 2012 2:32 PM ET | Delete
Henrik Sedin is also getting paid $6.1million to put up 95 points every year. Kopitar isn't in the same league as the Sedins. They are on the best contract in the NHL, if you ask me. I'm not saying Kopitar can't still develop, I'm just saying that the contract was overkill. When the Sedins came into their own, Daniel was coming off a 71 point season. The contract he signed? Just over $3million for three years.
January 15, 2012 3:34 PM ET | Delete
At least you can tell Vinny wants to do something. I don't care how many people say this and that about him being overpaid and overrated, there are about 10-15 other players that are way overpaid yet they don't do anything at all. At least Vinny will net you 20 goals and 60ish points, while bring some emotion to the game. Good for him.
January 15, 2012 3:48 PM ET | Delete
January 15, 2012 6:58 PM ET | Delete
Worst gm? Hello Darcy regier
January 16, 2012 1:22 AM ET | Delete
Sabres30: Are you telling me that the Leino contract was a bad one? (sarcasm)
January 16, 2012 2:34 AM ET | Delete
Stamkos is a dynamic scorer....but it doesn't go much further than that. He is a pure goal scorer, not the greatest playmaker and certainly doesn't play the best defense. I'd rather have a Claude giroux than a Steven Stamkos
January 16, 2012 3:45 AM ET | Delete
Don't take shots at Kopitar. He's a point per game guy and has been since before the Kings were any good. He and Stamkos play very different games (Kopitar is more of a playmaker) and are both stars in their own right.
January 16, 2012 7:51 PM ET | Delete
I'd rather have Giroux as well. In my opinion, he is the most complete player in the game (ahead of Crosby). Stammer has made great strides in his development into a complete player, but he's still not on that level. Still, he's much better than he was.
January 16, 2012 7:54 PM ET | Delete
A-Mar: Kopitar is a guy who has had his fair share of struggles since entering the NHL. I have a lot of respect for his play over the last couple of years. My big complaint is the contract he signed (I'm also a Kings fan). For a guy who has never been a point per game player, and struggled defensively for years, $6.8million is quite heavy.
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02 Why Bolts Must Get Into Bobby Ryan Trade Discussions
02 Breaking News: Lightning Make Minor Trade with Panthers
03 10 Bold Predictions for Rangers vs. Lightning Game
04 Lightning Lose to Rangers: My Prediction Round Up
06 Simply Embarassing: Lightning Drop 5th Straight to Islanders
08 Lightning Beat Rangers to End Losing Streak - Mixed Bag
10 The 1-3-1 Returns: Flyers Take on Bolts at Wells Fargo
11 Lightning Fall to Flyers: The Slot Looks Like a Drive-Thru
12 From Bad to Worse + Lightning Sign Miettinen
14 Lightning Talk: Defensemen to Target in Free Agent Frenzy
14 Scenario
15 Bolts Squeeze By Flames Thanks to Dominant Second Period
17 Lightning Should Make a Push for Shea Weber
18 Bolts Down Blue Jackets + Rumor Round-Up
20 Why the Lightning WILL make the Playoffs This Season
22 Lightning Embarrassed by Sharks in San Jose: U-G-L-Y
22 Tampa Bay Lightning: I Want Your Opinions
23 Bolts vs. Avalanche: A Long-Winded Game Preview
24 Bolts Lose to Avalanche in Goalie Battle + Rumor Round-Up
25 Risky Business: Victor Hedman and Other Top-5 D-Men
26 Flyers vs. Bolts Shaping Up to be a Great Game -- Preview
27 Next 6 Games Vital for Lightning + My Predictions
27 Bryzgalov Shaky as Lightning Beat Up on Flyers
29 A Tale of Two Underperforming Teams: Bolts vs. Canadiens
29 A V for Vinny, a V for Victory: Bolts Down Habs 4-3
30 Bolts/Canes Preview + HB Hotstove Response + Rumor Update
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