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Yzerman extension means a commitment to bring Cup back to Tampa Bay

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

The past four years have been an experiment for the Tampa Bay Lightning's vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman.

Laying the foundation for the future through most notably his ability to acquire young talent in the draft, Yzerman went on to witness those players perform at the development levels, but he did not know if it would translate to the National Hockey League.

"He has worked tirelessly to transform our hockey department and establish the groundwork for sustained success," chairman and governor Jeff Vinik said.

Now with the Bolts second playoff berth coupled with one of the best seasons in the franchise's history under his belt, it seems Yzerman's experiment has returned positive results.

"We're starting to see some of the benefits," Yzerman said. "We've got a nice nucleus of young players and we're heading in the right direction. I'm excited about my future, our future, here in Tampa."

Yzerman also helped bring in a head coach who, though he did not have a lot of experience compared to other candidates, was the right man for the job.

As their head coach Jon Cooper has anchored the Lightning to heights not reached since their one and only Stanley Cup victory in the 2003-04 campaign, after finishing in 28th place out of 30 teams in the standings last season.

Then Yzerman made a bold decision this year by trading for Ryan Callahan with the New York Rangers at the deadline when it seemed the options of talent they could secure were extremely limited.

Once a place devoid of big talent or seen as a pitstop in others careers, the Lightning franchise is starting to build a strong reputation that grows with Yzerman's tag.

"We have very stable ownership and it's an exciting place to watch a game," Yzerman said. "We've got a nice group of young players coming that if we continue to be patient and let them develop, I think this is an attractive place for players to come play."

The Lightning are now 144-114-32 in just under four full seasons since Yzerman transformed the team and established it as one of the league's model franchises for drafting and developing players.

His extension keeps the Detroit Red Wings Alum in Tampa Bay until the 2018-19 season. That means Tampa Bay has four more years to prove that the sky is the limit with Yzerman at the helm.

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