Don’t expect Jeff Vinik to start weighing in on Steve Stamkos‘ contract negotiations.
The Tampa Bay Lightning owner said as much on Sunday, telling the Tribune that, while he appreciates what Stamkos brings to the ice and organization, he won’t meddle in GM Steve Yzerman’s decision-making process.
“We talk about all aspects of the business, we talk about the cap a lot, we talk about how he sees the team looking,” Vinik said. “But I let [Yzerman] run the hockey decisions, and it looks like the plan is working so far.
“He has a green light to do what he thinks is best in the long-term interest of this franchise.”
Stamkos, heading into the last of a five-year, $37.5 million deal with a $7.5M average annual cap hit, will garner a huge payday with his next contract. Yzerman does need to be careful about the financials, however, as he has a slew of important youngsters needing new deals in the near future — Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin are all up in 2017.
Historically speaking, Vinik has been hands-off when it comes to hockey decisions. He threw his full support behind Yzerman when Tampa made the decision to buy out popular captain Vincent Lecavalier — the buyout cost Vinik over $32 million and was one of the largest in NHL history.
Vinik did wade into the Martin St. Louis situation, though, twice trying to convince the team’s captain (seeing a theme here?) to try and change his mind about demanding a trade.
That said, he did pen a letter to Bolts fans saying he was pleased with Yzerman’s handling of the deal.