Tampa Bay Lightning
Heart of Lightning franchise isn't going anywhere
Not sure how or why trade rumors that swirled regarding Marty St. Louis took flight, but they were spreading widely late last week. By midweek, shortly after Jarome Iginla was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis suddenly became the next big name on the trade market.
Except he never was.
Of course the Boston Bruins, who thought they had a deal to acquire Iginla before a late shift sent him to Pittsburgh, would have interest in acquiring a former league MVP and scoring champion to help them down the stretch run.
So after Iginla slipped through the Bruins' paws, the media in Boston immediately turned to speculating that St. Louis would be the next target for general manager Peter Chiarelli to turn his sights on.
So that's where the rumor caught fire, fueled by a speculative article a couple of weeks earlier suggesting that perhaps St. Louis, 37, would not be on board with the evident youth movement taking place in the Lightning locker room.
And once Guy Boucher was let go as head coach and Jon Cooper was brought on board, many felt that would be the final piece that would send St. Louis looking for the closest duffle bag to pack his gear and take his skates to a team closer to contending.
That's nowhere near the case.
“I like (Cooper's) approach. He's very constructive, very positive and I think everybody is excited,'' St. Louis said of the coaching change. “And if Steve Yzerman says this is the guy, then I trust him.''
Logically, why would the Lightning look to move St. Louis? This is not a Ray Bourque situation where he's chasing a Stanley Cup late in his career. And it's not an Iginla situation where St. Louis is a pending unrestricted free agent the team is at risk of losing for nothing. St. Louis has two years left on his contract, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him play another year or two beyond that.
On top of everything else, St. Louis remains the emotional leader in the locker room and is more of a co-captain than an alternate captain on this team.
And he is still productive, entering Saturday's action fourth in the league in scoring with 43 points and second in assists with 35.
Not to mention he is a premier set-up guy for Steven Stamkos.
No matter what the return for St. Louis would be, his absence would open a big hole on a roster that has 11 players under age 25. St. Louis sets the tone for this team, and he sets the example.
When his playing days are over, he will still be the player many on the team will point to as the one who led the way on how to carry themselves around the locker room and how to prepare each day. In other words, how to be a pro.
Yet there it was, all the speculation leading to rumors that St. Louis was on the block. But he's not asking out and won't be asked if he does want out.
He's not being traded, words Yzerman uttered publicly Friday.
“There's nothing you can do about (the speculation),'' Yzerman said. “Somebody somewhere will have an opinion and the next thing you know, it's gospel. That's just the way it works, I guess. I don't really feel it's necessary to respond to baseless rumors, but I was asked the question (if St. Louis was being moved) and I answered it. I think (not trading St. Louis) is what I said or words to that effect.''
While I'm sure it will be hard for Calgary fans to see Iginla suit up in a uniform other than a Flames jersey, I just can't see St. Louis donning another jersey. While some debate whether he's a future Hall of Famer, he's almost certainly destined to be the first Lightning player to have his number retired and jersey lifted to the rafters.
To me, he's a lifer in Lightning colors.