Steve Yzerman stepping down as Lightning GM

In a National Hockey League stunner, Steve Yzerman will step down as Tampa Bay Lightning general manager just days before the start of training camp, the team announced on Monday.

When home comes calling, it's tough to say no. Reports indicate Steve Yzerman will join the Red Wings after the season.

"With some time to reflect, to do the job the way it needs to be done - the way I feel it needs to be done - and ultimately to be with my family as well, it's becoming hard to do, hence the decision", Yzerman told reporters at a press conference in Tampa.

The Lightning finished atop the Atlantic division last season with a record of 54-23-5 for 113 points before falling to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference final in seven games.

"I feel this change in role is important for me to allow me to spend more time with my family and to still make sure the Lightning is managed to the level everyone has come to expect", Yzerman said.

A source told the Detroit Free Press that Yzerman told Lightning players in the meeting that he was going home to Detroit, the city where he was made a legend and still lives during the offseason. The Lightning have reached the conference finals four times since Yzerman took over, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2015. Detroit is in rebuilding mode, while Tampa Bay has become a perennial contender and will again be a championship favorite this season. He promoted Jon Cooper to head coach in 2013, re-signed captain Steven Stamkos and locked up defenceman Victor Hedman to a long-term deal in 2016.

Yzerman, 53, was first connected to the Red Wings' GM job when he worked in the team's front office from 2006-2010.

Tampa Bay came two victories away from the second title in franchise history three years ago. Internationally, Yzerman was a member of Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"We got to Game 6 of the finals and we've gotten to three Game 7s of the conference finals", he said.

Vanessa Coleman

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