TAMPA — After capping off an emotional 24-hour period, former Lightning captain Marty St. Louis still felt the effects of the windfall following the trade that sent him to the New York Rangers on Wednesday. .
St. Louis made his debut with Rangers on Wednesday, playing 20 minutes, 11 seconds with three shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in a 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto. The request for a trade came after St. Louis was left off the Canadian Olympic roster, headed up by Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman, on Jan. 7. He was eventually named as an injury replacement for teammate Steven Stamkos and won a gold medal.
And though he had in the back of his mind that he one day might like to finish his career in New York, not far from his family home in Connecticut, being left off the Canada roster by his NHL general manager left a wound that never really healed even though St. Louis said two days prior he did not want to be part of the team just because the Canadian general manager was also his NHL GM.
“I don’t know why it (hurt), it just did,’’ St. Louis said. “I wasn’t on the team, I guess it hurt more because he was my GM.’’
That moment proved to be the trigger point and led to his eventual departure of the captain from a team in the thick of the playoff race.
“I guess when that happened, it made me think about myself a little bit,’’ St. Louis said. “I feel like for myself and my family, I’ve been a guy that worries about everybody around me for a long time, and when that happened I felt it was time to look out for me.’’
He understands some of the hard feelings that many fans may feel for how the situation played out and the terms of his departure, but he hopes eventually everything he accomplished during his tenure with the Lightning will be remembered.
“I get it, I understand their frustration and I don’t expect them to like this, I just hope over time they respect it,’’ St. Louis said. “When I came here I never guess that I would’ve played 14 years here, I was just trying to play 14 games. I owe a lot to the organization and what they have done for me and my family. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Vinik and Steve (Yzerman) for honoring my wish.’’
Now St. Louis is ready to move on and face the next challenge in his Hall of Fame career that includes a Stanley Cup title, MVP, two scoring titles and an Olympic gold medal.
“I appreciate the opportunity to play on a big market team and to do something else,’’ St. Louis said. “I know it’s going to be a challenge for me obviously to play here it’s something different . When you’re in one place for that long you’re just used to everything there are things that you do no matter who the people are around you, you’re in one place now my teammates. The travel, everything, was for my family and for myself so I think I was ready for that.’’