If you gotta go, go out on top.
With his Canadian Olympic team basking in a golden glow, executive director Steve Yzerman announced today that he’s turning over the keys to the country’s most prestigious, and most second-guessed, job, effective immediately.
“It’s time to let someone else have a shot at it,” he told the media in Sochi.
Yzerman assembled one of the greatest lineups ever to wear the Maple Leaf for these Olympics, and certainly the best ever defensive side. Canada gave up just three goals in six games while proving they could succeed on the big ice surface.
The timing might have been a surprise, but the decision wasn’t. After twice building an Olympic gold-medal winning team, it makes sense for Yzerman to devote himself full-time to his day job running the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It’s still up in the air if NHL players will participate in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, but if they do it’s expected that Yzerman’s successor will emerge from the current staff. Doug Armstrong, a loud, clear voice during the process of building this club, seems like the ideal fit, both in experience and temperament, but Peter Chiarelli also deserves consideration. This was his first go with the Olympic team, but he’s regarded as one of the game’s top young minds.
Whoever gets the job won’t face a significant roster overhaul.
Carey Price should be a lock to return between the pipes, but Roberto Luongo and Mike Smith are likely to be replaced by Jonathan Bernier and Corey Crawford.
The defense could remain largely intact, although P.K. Subban could assume a larger role and an emerging talent like Ryan Murray could step in for Dan Hamhuis.
Canada looks set at center with Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares, but there could be some fresh faces up front with Logan Couture, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Johansen and Nathan MacKinnon likely to force their way into the conversation. The new guy will also want to find room for a healthy Steven Stamkos.