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Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Once again, St. Louis takes stage via back door

TAMPA — Marty St. Louis is a Winter Olympian, like he should have been all along.

So, Marty:

Cheer up!

You made it!

But, passed over no more, St. Louis couldn't quite completely forget that once he was overlooked, even as he smiled today over the honor of playing for Canada in Sochi, replacing teammate Steven Stamkos.

Yes, I bet it was an interesting phone call when St. Louis spoke Wednesday night with Hockey Canada executive director — and Lightning GM — Steve Yzerman, and Yzerman told St. Louis he'd been added to Canada's roster.

Yzerman could have said, “Happy?”

St. Louis could have said, “No thanks.”

No such thing happened to end this month-long mini-drama.

This isn't the time for wounded pride.

It's Olympics time.

It's time to get over it and go, go, go.

Surely, St. Louis must have thought of his legacy, 10, 15 years down the road, having no regrets, or about playing for his country and his family, especially his sons Ryan, Lucas and Mason, 10, 8 and 6.

“Whenever you get a chance to win a gold medal, it's an experience that you remember for a long time,” St. Louis said. “And for me, my kids being older, just to see their dad on that stage …”

He'd rather not be going in place of his friend and teammate.

“I feel terrible for Stammer that he's in that situation. Canada is going to miss him,” St. Louis said. “I'm just happy I'm getting the opportunity. I feel my whole career, of how I came into the league, kind of a backdoor entrance; (this is) kind of the same way.”

I don't know if you can be chosen for the Olympics, at any time, and still talk about when you weren't chosen.

Marty knows that, or should.

I get it, though. St. Louis thought he was through with back doors — that is, until he was left off the original Canada roster.

“As upset as you can be sometimes, it's hard to turn down these opportunities,” St. Louis said. “You've got to realize you only get a few kicks at the can, you've got to put the emotion aside and realize the experience and the opportunity.”

I don't know how much credit Yzerman gets for adding a guy who only has the most points in the NHL since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (Stamkos is second), but he does deserve some. I think he was the driving force in getting St. Louis added.

Yzerman carefully laid it out: Canada needed a new right winger and Marty was Next Man Up.

“This was a decision we made without hesitation, without a lot of discussion,” Yzerman said. “He was the right fit and the right player for the spot.”

Yzerman dismissed the notion that he was mending fences or worried about the heat if he'd left St. Louis off again.

“That had no impact on it, no impact whatsoever.”

St. Louis' play over the last month, that had impact.

A few hours after the Canadian roster was first announced, he scored a pair of third-period goals at Winnipeg, including the game-winner. He added a four-goal game. He didn't pout. Rather, he played his way onto a team he always deserved to be on.

“Of course I was bitter,” St. Louis said. “I've answered those questions before. Was I motivated? I don't think it's motivation. I've been motivated the past four years, the past 10 years. … Production wise, I produced quite a bit. For a lot of us that play the game, I think going on the ice is the best therapy.”

St. Louis is the 14th Canadian forward. He'll have to fight for ice time. I don't know if Canada coach Mike Babcock is a huge Marty guy, no matter how Babcock spun it Thursday.

“He goes in as a group of one of 14, and then he's got to carve out whatever he can carve out for himself, just like the rest of the guys,” Babcock told media. “We're thrilled to have him.”

Babcock also coaches the Red Wings, who are at the Forum on Saturday.

Can't you just see Marty carving the Wings?

And if he gets a real kick at the can in Sochi, watch out.

He might just find a way, even through the back door.

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