Many of you in Bolts Nation know that Steve Yzerman, General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has also been the Executive Director for Canada’s Mens Olympic Hockey Team, not only in 2014 but also in 2010. Many of you also know that in his Olympic position, Yzerman was blamed by Martin St. Louis for not being on the 2014 Olympic roster. Now some of you may know that in 2010, Yzerman’s Olympic roster also did not include Martin St. Louis. But did any of you know that the 2010 Canadian Olympic roster did have Brenden Morrow on the roster? Apparently, at least in 2010, Brenden Morrow had a fan in Steve Yzerman.
I bring up the Olympic teams, not to pour salt in the Marty wound but to illustrate that in my opinion, Steve Yzerman has an image of the kind of hockey player he wants on his teams. Despite the statistics that St. Louis has accumulated in his soon to be Hall of Fame career, at least in his Olympic duties, Marty didn’t seem to fit the Yzerplan.
There is no doubt that Brenden Morrow fits the mold. He’s tough, he’s physical and even at 35 years of age, is an intimidating player. When he was in Dallas, Brendan Morrow became the Stars captain when he was 27 years old. The Yzerplan loves leaders. Case in point, Ryan Callahan. Remember, just because you have a “C” on your chest doesn’t make you a leader. The Yzerplan takes this into account.
In 2000, Brenden Morrow broke a bone in his ankle in game one of the Western Conference Finals. Morrow was back on the ice for game four. This is classic Yzerplan material. In fact, in 2001, Yzerman broke his leg with six, yes SIX games left in the season and still played in the playoffs. With a broken leg. To say these two guys are cut from the same cloth is an understatement. It is more apropos to say they are chiseled from the same piece of granite.
Brenden Morrow’s predecessor as captain with the Dallas Stars was Mike Modano, who this year was elected to the Hall of Fame. While a teammate of Morrow’s, Modano said this about our newest Bolt, “He initiates all over the ice. He infuriates the opponents with the impact he plays with. He’s an inspiration to us all” Not bad qualities to have, if you play for Steve Yzerman.
I realize that Morrow and St. Louis are two different types of players. They bring different things to the table. But when the Olympic roster was announced and St. Louis’ name wasn’t there, I thought about a quote from Yzerman when he hired Guy Boucher to coach the Lightning back in 2010. Boucher’s hiring was basically the first thing Yzerman did, after he himself was hired by Jeff Vinik.
When asked about hiring such a young, inexperienced (in the NHL) man as his first head coach, Yzerman responded “I just go with the best guy for the job. I’m not afraid. I really believe he’s the right guy, a smart guy. He’s young and I’m a young general manager, so we’ll grow together and figure it out as we go along.” When it came time to fire Boucher, Yzerman didn’t beat around the bush or give the situation time to work itself out. He did the deed with about 15 games left in the season. Fear has no place in the Yzerplan.
Clearly, Steve Yzerman believes that Brenden Morrow is right for his team now. I’d go so far as to say Yzerman feels Morrow was the best guy for one of the last remaining spots on this year’s club. No doubt that Brenden Morrow is a Steve Yzerman kind of guy.
Lot of heart, strong will, a leader who isn’t afraid to mix it up on the ice. Enough skills to still score in this league and a presence that will help the core group of young potential stars on this team who are looking for all the leadership they can find. If I was writing this article 15 years ago, you’d swear I was describing Steve Yzerman. No wonder Brenden Morrow fits the Yzerplan.