Steve Yzerman has a chance to do what no general manager has ever done.
With the Lightning preparing to host the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, Yzerman has the rare opportunity of becoming the first GM to join the prestigious Triple Gold Club, should Tampa win the series.
As executive director of Team Canada, Yzerman also assembled the gold medal-winning teams at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as the 2007 World Championship.
Early Success as a GM
Before his Olympic glory in Vancouver and Sochi, Yzerman cut his teeth as a rookie GM by putting together Canada’s roster for the 2007 World Championship, less than a year after retiring from the NHL. That team – the last Canadian squad to win gold at the Worlds prior to the 2015 group that broke the drought last month – included a talented, up-and-coming cast featuring Mike Cammalleri, Rick Nash, Eric and Jordan Staal, Justin Williams and Jonathan Towes up front, Dan Hamuis, Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber on the back end, and Cam Ward in goal, with veteran Shane Doan as captain for the first of three straight years.
Canada won all nine games – including one in overtime – en route to a 4-2 gold medal victory over Finland, with Nash scoring six goals and 11 points to take home MVP honours. The experience Yzerman gained from building this championship group early in his management career, no doubt provided him a solid foundation and set the stage for the Olympic success that followed; success that ultimately gave him the chance to become and win as a GM in the NHL.
Yzerman Not in Triple Gold Club as a Player
Entering the Triple Gold Club as a GM is Yzerman’s only way in, as he is not one of the 26 individuals to win all three championships as a player.
— Craig Button (@CraigJButton) May 30, 2015
The Hall of Fame Red Wings captain led Detroit to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and ’98, and another in 2002. He also helped Team Canada win Olympic gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City, for the first time in 50 years. But Yzerman is missing a World Championship from his playing days – the title he won first as an executive – coming home with silver in both the 1985 and 1989 tournaments.
Joining the Team Canada Family
With Sidney Crosby becoming the first Triple Gold captain last month by winning the 2015 World Championship in Prague, Yzerman also has the chance to cement himself beside the rest of the Canadian Olympic Team’s leadership group, as members with all three titles.
Along with Crosby – who wore the ‘C’ in Sochi – Mike Babock has earned Triple Gold status, as the only coach to have accomplished the feat. Having Yzerman beside them as the only GM-coach-captain combination would be pretty special, and quite the challenge for other countries to try to match.
Alan is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto, and writes about the Maple Leafs for THW. He has covered the game for the National Post, Yahoo! Sports Canada and The Hockey News.