TAMPA — Like nearly everybody else who heard the news that Marty St. Louis wanted to be traded, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik showed surprise when he found out.
“A little sadness and disappointment at the time,’’ Vinik said before Thursday night’s game against the Sabres.
Despite holding two sit-down discussions with St. Louis to let him know how much he meant to the organization and community, Vinik was one of many who were unable to talk St. Louis out of requesting a move to the Rangers. The trade happened Wednesday and landed RW Ryan Callahan, a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a conditional second-round pick in 2014 that turns into a first-round pick if the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals this season.
“We would’ve loved to have seen Marty finish his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning sweater on,’’ Vinik said. “I was very direct in telling him that my dream is that you finish your career here and you lead us to another Stanley Cup.
“But I understand Marty’s reasons. It played out the way it did and we wish him well. He’s been a great player for this organization, is arguably the best player we’ve had in our history, and I hope things go great for him and his family in New York.’’
When it came down to finalizing the details, Vinik took a step back and allowed general manager Steve Yzerman to make the best move for the organization.
“We honored his request in terms of working out a deal to the one (team) that we were allowed to talk to, the Rangers,’’ Vinik said. “I’m a pretty level-headed guy, and so is Steve Yzerman, so we play the cards as they come out of the deck.
“We remain fixated on one goal, and that’s for the Tampa Bay Lightning to be one of the best teams in the NHL year in and year out and to win the Stanley Cup.’’
Vinik said there have been some calls from season ticket-holders expressing their disappointment in seeing the team captain traded, but he added Thursday was the best day to date in terms of adding renewals for season tickets since notices went out last month.
D Radko Gudas, who suffered an apparent left leg injury on Sunday in Colorado, missed his second consecutive game and did not go on the ice with the team during the morning skate.
According to coach Jon Cooper, however, the injury is not as bad as first feared and Gudas could return to the lineup as soon as next week.
With the return of C Steven Stamkos and the absence of St. Louis, the Lightning power play had a new look to it in terms of different personnel as well as a bit of a different setup with St. Louis no longer running the power play from the halfway.
The first unit on Thursday consisted of D Victor Hedman running the point, C Valtteri Filppula on the right halfway, RW Teddy Purcell on the left side boards with RW Nikita Kucherov and Stamkos skating in and out of areas to create space. The second unit saw D Mike Kostka and D Matt Carle along with LW Ondrej Palat, C Tyler Johnson and RW Richard Panik, who was playing his first game with Tampa Bay since Jan. 18 after spending the past two months in the minors.
When asked about the potential new look on the power play, Cooper was quick to quip, “Our power play is (19th) in the league, so there’s really only one way to go, and that’s what we are hoping is going to happen.’’
Nuts and Bolts
Tampa Bay scratched D Keith Aulie, LW Ryan Malone, RW B.J. Crombeen and Gudas. ... With the trade deadline passed, teams are allowed to expand the roster past the maximum of 23 players. ... G Ben Bishop had his streak of 16 consecutive starts end. The start for G Anders Lindback was his first since Jan. 13 in Columbus.