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Yzerman heavily involved in present, but future uncertain with Lightning

Former GM scouting, part of decision-making process, though contract expires after this season

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Steve Yzerman remains heavily involved with the Tampa Bay Lightning in his role as senior adviser to general manager Julien BriseBois, but it remains to be seen what he will do when his contract expires after this season.

"I talked to him midyear to see where his head was at," BriseBois said at the annual March meetings of NHL general managers Tuesday. "He said he still wanted to give it some thought, and we'd revisit after the season."

Yzerman stepped down as GM on Sept. 11 after eight seasons, saying it was becoming difficult to do the job the way he felt it needed to be done and also be with his family in Detroit. He spent 26 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings previously, 22 as a player, four in the front office.

"I know he's around, because I'm there," BriseBois. "But when I talk to people, they don't seem to grasp how around he's been all year.

"He's missed maybe a handful of home games. He's been at pretty much every home game. Usually when we're home for a homestand, he comes in from Detroit. He's been at some of our road games. I went and scouted with him to a number of (American Hockey League) weekends, junior games. So, he's been very involved.

"I talk to him pretty much every day. He was obviously very involved in the month leading up to the [2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25]. He was involved in all of our midyear meetings. And I know he's been a resource as well for our coaches and our players. I know he's reached out to some of them; some of them have reached out to him. Obviously, he's been a great sounding board for me, but he's been a great sounding board for our entire organization."

Asked if any team had asked permission to speak to Yzerman, BriseBois said: "Even if someone had, I probably wouldn't be telling you."

What will be the process of determining his future?

"I think he wanted to take the year before deciding what his next move will be," BriseBois said. "But as long as he wants to work with us in this role, it's his, because I enjoy working with him. For everything he brings to the table professionally, but I've also built a relationship with him over the years where we're really compatible, we complement each other really well and I enjoy his company on a personal level as well."

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