Steve Yzerman announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning after building them into a perennial contender, handing the reins to longtime assistant Julien BriseBois just two days before training camp.
Yzerman will move to a senior adviser role working under BriseBois and he said he was "100% committed" to the Lightning this season. Owner Jeff Vinik joined both men at a news conference in Tampa, Florida.
It was a surprising move for a powerhouse team in the league, one that reached the Eastern Conference final last season. Yzerman, 53, spent the past eight seasons as Tampa Bay's GM, a tenure that included five playoff appearances, three trips to the conference final and an appearance in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
He said he came to the decision in late July not to sign another contract as GM and that it took until now to iron out details on what to do next. Yzerman said BriseBois is "more than ready" to succeed him.
BriseBois, 41, had been an assistant to Yzerman since they joined the Lightning in 2010. For a number of years, he has been considered a future NHL general manager and takes over a team that should contend for years to come.
Tampa Bay is again one of the Cup favorites based on Yzerman's stellar record of drafting, developing and acquiring players. He promoted Jon Cooper to head coach in 2013, re-signed captain Steven Stamkos and locked up defenseman Victor Hedman to a long-term deal in 2016. He also traded for J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh at last year's trade deadline and got Nikita Kucherov signed to an extension this summer.
Yzerman, a Hall of Fame center with the Detroit Red Wings who won the Cup three times as a player, went into management immediately after retiring. He began his front office career as vice president of hockey operations under GM Ken Holland in Detroit and was part of a Cup winner in 2008 before getting the head job with the Lightning.
Holland signed a two-year contract extension at the end of last season to stay on as Red Wings GM.
Tampa Bay came two victories away from the second title in franchise history three years ago. Yzerman has also won Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 as Canada's GM.