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!
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