Since he was drafted by the Bolts we all knew he would be the elite NHL center that he is today, and most thought he would definitely be groomed for the Captaincy, as he was obviously going to be made the face of the Lightning. And after 3 years of exciting hockey, a “Rocket” Richard Trophy, The cover of EA Sports NHL 12, billboard’s announcing his resigning, etc etc, Stamkos has definitely become synonymous with Tampa Bay hockey.
At the beginning of his fourth NHL campaign, in addition to wearing the new Lightning sweater when he first stepped onto the Ice, he was also sporting an “A.” Now I was not really surprised by this but I didn’t really take much notice by it, my first thought was “Oh yeah, Mattias Ohlund is out.” And for that my apologies Mr. Stamkos.
So when did this all start? It really started to show during the playoff run last year. In the video, Coach Boucher mentioned how Stamkos is able to charge through a rough stretch, well during the run last year, Stamkos was criticized for a bit of a lack of scoring. Sure Stamkos wasn’t scoring as much as we would have liked to seen, but he was contributing in other areas of the ice, noticeably blocking shots. He didn’t pout about it, he found other ways to contribute to the success of the team. He led through his actions, not everyday one sees an elite center and goalscorer throw himself in front of a puck. This undoubtedly inspired the rest of the team (along with Dwayne Roloson’s play between the pipes of course). Not only has he led the team through his own actions and attitude on the ice, but has become more vocal as well, which could not have come at a better time since the loss of Marty for who knows how long.
In all it’s not hard to imagine that Stamkos would one day become a leader on the team, as he was under the wings of Vinny Lecavalier and one of the best in the game, Marty St. Louis. What better examples can be given to a young up and coming player. I look forward to seeing him continue to grow and mature as a player, but more so as a leader. The Bolts may have some uncertainty from time to time in other areas of the game, but the one thing they have solid depth in, is leadership. And when all is going wrong, it’s outstanding leadership that holds the team together and nets an OT winner to snap a five game losing streak.
Stamkos has earned that “A” on his chest and I do not see it leaving anytime soon, unless maybe for the “C” down the road.
Take care and take it easy,
-Black Sheep Jim