Did Bettman have a hand in the Yzerman hire?

1 Comment

Jim
Kelley at SI.com makes a very interesting
— and possible baseless
— assumption over the hiring of Steve Yzerman as the new GM of the
Tampa Bay Lightning. In a fairly long article praising the hire as a
great, inspired move by the Lightning, he proposes that Gary Bettman
might have had a hand in steering owner Jeff Vinik to Yzerman.

It’s fair to assume (because these things always go unspoken) that
Bettman steered Vinik to Steve Yzerman as Tampa Bay’s new general
manager. That’s because Vinik, who knows next to nothing regarding the
inner workings of a sports franchise, had intended to hire a CEO to run
his newly acquired business and then let the CEO hire a GM. Well, he
still hasn’t found that CEO, but someone advised him to go out and get
the best new face on the GM want-to-be scene.

So, Kelley acknowledges it’s just an assumption but it’s still one
heck of an assumption to make, especially coming from Sports
Illustrated.

For one thing, Jeff Vinik is not a clueless man. Even though he’s
unfamiliar with the hockey side of things, it wouldn’t take a genius to
figure out that if a team is looking for a “fresh” start then perhaps
picking one of the up-and-coming names on the GM circuit.

Is it possible that Bettman had a hand in the hiring, possibly
steering Vinik in that direction? It’s certainly possible, although you
wonder about the ethics of such a thing happening. The Red Wings
couldn’t have been too happy with losing their golden boy executive,
although Ken Holland made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon
just to make room for Yzerman.

I can understand where the thought comes from, although I’d rather
just assume that a man smart enough to be a self-made millionaire and
then able to win over the good graces of the NHL (who are now much more
picky about who they approve sales to) is also capable of deciding that
hiring Steve Yzerman as his general manager is a dang good investment.