An announcement Friday that former Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman has been named that team’s general manager provides additional clarity to the executive search by Seattle’s incoming NHL franchise.
Besides Yzerman’s hiring, outgoing Detroit GM Ken Holland has taken on a senior vice president position with the club. The NHL Seattle group had particular interest in both men, especially Holland — who seemed the more likely of the two to hit the open market had he chosen to continue in a GM capacity.
Now, with both off the table, the Seattle group is expected to focus on Vegas Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon. The Knights are still in the playoffs and McCrimmon — considered the hottest future GM candidate in the league — is also being pursued by the Edmonton Oilers.
NHL Seattle would need to request permission from Vegas to talk to McCrimmon once the Knights’ postseason is done by June. But if that permission is granted and McCrimmon is allowed to leave the Knights, NHL Seattle is expected to obtain ownership permission to hire a GM this summer rather than next year.
If McCrimmon is not available, the Seattle group is expected to wait until next year to make a hire and see what other candidates emerge by that time.
Yzerman, the longtime Hall of Fame captain of Stanley Cup winners in Detroit, had been a senior adviser to the Tampa Bay Lightning after stepping down from its GM post last September. As the Lightning’s GM under then team CEO Tod Leiweke — now running the NHL Seattle group — Yzerman built much of the team’s 2015 Cup finalist squad as well as this year’s Presidents’ Trophy winner for top regular season record.
But the Lightning was stunned by Columbus in a four-game opening round playoff sweep that ended Yzerman’s adviser contract. With Detroit’s main GM target freed up contractually, the Red Wings swooped in to land him.
Yzerman and his family make their home in suburban Detroit, and even as Lightning GM he would commute back and forth between there and Tampa weekly.
Holland had been responsible for three Stanley Cup wins and a two-decade stretch of playoff appearances by the Red Wings. But the team is in a rebuilding phase and has missed the playoffs the past several seasons, prompting fan cries for Yzerman to be repatriated by the team.