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Stadium Series

Yzerman gets back to work

Lightning GM heads back to Tampa after Stadium Series Alumni Game

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

DENVER -- It was last summer when Joe Sakic called Steve Yzerman to ask if he'd be interested in playing in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game at Coors Field between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

Yzerman quickly said yes. He loved playing in the alumni game with the Red Wings in Detroit prior to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and figured this would be a similar experience, albeit in a road game.

"I didn't realize it was going to be on the [trade] deadline weekend," said Yzerman, the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That the game fell on Friday night, less than 72 hours before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET), didn't stop Yzerman from flying to Denver and playing with his former teammates in a 60-minute game that for at least a short while rekindled an old rivalry.

 "Loved it," Yzerman said of the experience. "The place was full. I played in that one in Detroit and it was a lot of fun. Coming here, you see the guys you played with and played against, and it's fun to be a part of it."

But duty calls, so Yzerman plans to be on a plane bound for Tampa on Saturday morning. He said he has meetings planned with his staff for the afternoon, and they'll be watching games at night.

"All of the player scouting is pretty much done," Yzerman said. "We're going to meet as a group with all of our staff and reorganize for the weekend. Got work to do."

Yzerman made his pre-deadline life easier 11 days ago, when he announced publicly that Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will not be traded this season. Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The Lightning have responded by winning five games in a row, including a 4-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Stamkos has scored in all five wins, his longest goal-scoring streak of the season. He has 27 goals.

"It was something like, 'Let's just get this out of the way early,'" Yzerman said. "[Stamkos] doesn't have to answer that question every single day so he can focus on playing the game."

Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin has not played since he was suspended indefinitely by Yzerman for failing to report to an American Hockey League game in Toronto on Jan. 20.

Drouin has publicly asked to be traded. Yzerman said Wednesday in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times that he hopes to trade Drouin before the deadline, but is offering no assurances that it will happen.

"My focus is the Tampa Bay Lightning, and obviously that's what we may be able to do with him," Yzerman said. "We'll see."

In fact, Yzerman said he doesn't feel any pressure to make a trade before the deadline. He rejected the idea that GMs feel the need to make a trade when they see other GMs making moves days ahead of the deadline, the way several Western Conference teams have.

The Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings have made trades in the past three days in an attempt to bolster their rosters. No team in the Eastern Conference has made a significant trade, although the League-leading Washington Capitals bolstered their defensive depth on Tuesday by acquiring Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round draft pick in 2017.

"I just worry about trying to do the things that we want to do," Yzerman said. "You don't want to get caught up with trying to keep up with somebody and do something for the wrong reason, over pay or do something unnecessary. We have an idea of what we'd like to do and if we can't do it, we'll go with the team that we have."

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