The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the Red Wings 1995-96 record of 62 victories this past season and were the odds-on favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup this June.
However, a stunning opening round sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets ended their season. Shortly after, former Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was welcomed back to the Red Wings.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Yzerman spent some time together immediately after the Lightning season ended and reflected on his time with the club.
“Spent three or four hours together,” said Vinik. “We were talking about the last eight or nine years, talking about the season, why we lost — just enjoying each other’s company. We had a great run together.
“But he apologized: ‘Sorry I didn’t bring you the Stanley Cup.’ That’s why Steve was here, and that was his main motive. We wanted sustained success, a chance to win each year. And a lot has to go right to win. But we didn’t. Every year that goes by, that becomes even more our focus.”
“Steve talked about how his family needed him in Detroit and still needs him there. That was the right decision for him,” Vinik said. “Certainly, in the back of my mind, I knew there’s a good chance he’d become the manager of the Wings.
“At the end, he was very respectful. He didn’t have conversations (with Detroit) until later into the season. I’m not sure that any of us were surprised. I wish him the best of luck being the second-best team in the NHL.”