Yzerman leaves Red Wings to become Lightning GM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman was named general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning following his turn as executive director of Canada's gold-medal winning Olympic ice hockey squad, the NHL team announced on Tuesday.

"I am extremely excited to join the Lightning organization as we look to re-establish the organization as one of the most respected in the NHL," Yzerman said a news conference.

Yzerman, who assembled the Canadian men's ice hockey team that won gold at the Vancouver Olympics earlier this year, will fill the post left vacant after Brian Lawton was fired by new owner Jeff Vinik in April.

Vinik also fired coach Rick Tocchet in a front office shake-up for a team that missed the playoffs for the third straight year.

"There is a great nucleus here and Jeff is a proactive, enthusiastic and committed owner," said Yzerman, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 after winning three Stanley Cups as a player and one as management.

Said Vinik: "I am confident that he is the right person to lead the Tampa Bay hockey team ... bringing with him strong leadership qualities and a competitive desire to win through hard work and determination."

(Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue)