If you’re a Tampa Bay Lightning fan, you’re more than likely feeling a little bipolar today.
The day started with the exciting news that Steven Stamkos, who suffered a gruesome broken leg less than four months ago, was given the green light to return to action. For a team currently near the top of the Eastern Conference, it was a much-welcomed event.
However, Stamkos is returning to a team that just lost its captain. After some drama involving an Olympic snub, Martin St. Louis, a member of the Lightning since 2000, has been traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan. So, essentially, Tampa Bay regained one of the best players in the NHL just minutes before losing another.
For St. Louis, it’s a sad end to what had been an amazing tenure with the Lightning. It’s sad because the move essentially came about after GM Steve Yzerman snubbed St. Louis from the Canadian Olympic roster. Because, despite eventually going to Sochi thanks to Stamkos’ injury, St. Louis still felt angry enough to demand a trade from a team with which he built his legacy. And because a player so well-respected throughout the league essentially left his club in an incredibly selfish way.
Make no mistake; St. Louis certainly had a case in thinking he deserved to be on the original Canadian lineup. Despite being 38-years-old, he’s hardly slowing down, with 29 goals and 61 total points on the year so far. His age all but guaranteed this would be his final shot at an Olympic invite, so it’s totally understandable he’d be upset about missing the first cut. But did he really feel that, since his GM was also calling the shots for who’d be playing for Canada, he was guaranteed a spot?
Look, I get it; St. Louis is an ageless wonder who benefits any team he plays for in both the NHL and the Olympics. But, did Yzerman do anything beyond just not giving St. Louis an initial spot on the roster? Did he take personal pot-shots at the Lightning captain? When announcing the Canadian team, did he say St. Louis missed the cut because lacked effort, passion, tenacity or any other buzzwords that would offend the talented forward?
No. In fact, Yzerman said he lost sleep over the idea of not inviting St. Louis to Sochi, which would explain why he was so quick to give him the vacant spot left by Stamkos. And yet, here we are, watching one of, if not the best player Tampa has ever had walk away because he felt slighted by his GM.
The Lightning get a quality player in Callahan, but he doesn’t have numbers anywhere close to St. Louis’. He also could very well be just a rental, as his contract expires at the end of the year. Callahan is demanding a ton of money, a number the Rangers balked at. Is Tampa Bay going to be willing to pony up $49 million for him?
That’s a question for another day. Today, the focus will be on St. Louis, and how he’s essentially leaving the Lightning because he felt he would go to the Olympics since his GM made the roster decisions. His career numbers should make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but today, it’s tough not to look at St. Louis in a negative light.