Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Off the Dot: Oh, Captain! Why, Captain? Does Martin St. Louis Want a Trade?

I was going to wait a bit before really committing to writing down what all of this chatter and speculation on whether or not Martin St. Louis truly asked for a trade back in January, and still indeed wants one from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and how it makes me feel.  But so many other blog writers have written so many excellent pieces with their own feelings on the matter that I felt compelled this morning to put these wayward thoughts of mine together and string something up for all of you to see.

If anything, this is more for my own edification than anything else:  to get my own feelings down and to understand them.

I don’t want to put the cart before the horse and all, but too much of what I’ve read on this matter has led me to believe this very well could be true, and if so, to me, it’s worse than Vinny’s buyout.  So much worse.

Vincent Lecavalier’s production was down and the former captain was suffering near constant injuries in the final few years of his time in Tampa Bay – not to mention that weighty contract he had.  The Lightning was a basement team in a weak division in a weak conference last year.  It’s understandable, to a certain degree, why the buyout was necessary, as painful as it was.  And it got us Valtteri Filppula:  a player who has been putting up big numbers in Tampa Bay and has been a real contributor to our team’s success in 2013-14.

While Marty is our captain NOW, and the Bolts are currently in a logjam for a playoff spot (though it has the potential of not lasting too long if the Bolts come out, starting today, after the Olympic break, by going on a tear, chasing down the Bruins and distancing themselves from everyone else) and need Marty’s guidance at the helm to ensure the playoff berth is a possibility.

It makes no sense that with Marty, being in the position he is in on this year’s Lightning team:  leading the team in points, his first captaincy, and on a bonafide playoff contender in the making; that he would request a trade for anything more than personal, selfish reasons, and it sickens me to think that Marty could be capable of that.  Even if I do sympathize with his original snub from the Canadian Olympic team; though he did ultimately go, and won a gold medal regardless, I think this, if he truly intends to carry on with a trade, is ridiculous.  And it has the potential to derail everything this team has accomplished this year if it ends up happening.

The irony that Marty, the very image; the very heart of what Tampa Bay Lightning hockey stands for, one of our heroes for almost fifteen years, one of the stars of our lone Stanley Cup championship, is at the center of this derailment is surreal to say the least.  It is a custom made Lightning Nightmare, which only Tampa Bay fans will feel the brunt of.

I think most of us are already starting to feel it, despite no news from either Marty or Steve Yzerman directly on the matter to squash these rumors if they truly are unfounded.

I think Yzerman’s resigning of the General Manager position of Team Canada is very telling.  More than stepping down while on top I think it’s the case of a GM, who also GM’s a NHL team, seeing the peril of picking a team where you might be forced to leave one of your own players from your NHL team behind because it can’t be perceived as favoritism, or at the very least you are forced to pick between a rock and hard place, leave one of your own players off the team because they’re just not great enough to play on a great team (their opinion), then come back to your NHL team and relationships are now fractured.

Which appears to be the case here, and Marty didn’t help matters when asked about the situation, pouring gasoline on the flames with a very noncommittal and vague response that he had discussed his future with Yzerman.

I believe within the next week or two we will know for sure what is fixing to hit Tampa Bay:  a snowstorm of grief and hurt or a warm breeze of reaffirmation and drive for a playoff berth.

We need Marty at the helm of this ship.  We want Marty at the helm of this ship.

But does Marty want to be its captain anymore?

We’ll find out sooner than later, but ultimately, the questions of the last few days have severely thrown the legacy of this great man, a hockey legend in Tampa Bay, to doubt (at least to me, if not temporarily, it has forced me to question things I never thought to question before about the man).

He’ll still be St. Louis, the face and heart of our franchise, even if he leaves.  He’ll still be our greatest star and contributor that our team has ever seen, and we’ll always have 2004, but will he ever really be “Marty” to us again?  The same Marty we knew and loved, unconditionally, before these rumors first came out and then never went away.  Does this suddenly take away a little piece of the Marty that we’ve secretly kept embedded in all of our Lightning hearts for all these years, only to forget it’s a business and things like this can happen?  If Vinny’s departure didn’t wake all of us up to that cold fact, then I think Marty leaving, especially under these circumstances, will be mind-numbing.

Is he truly this petty or is there a bigger fire going on in the locker room that we as fans are just not privy to as of yet?  Will the smoke from that blaze reach our nostrils soon enough?

Are we ultimately being foolish with our collective sense of ownership over Marty?  Good question.  And I don’t know the answer to it.

Personally I hope he comes out soon to put all of our fears to rest.  I hope he keeps his legacy, which is massive, in Tampa Bay intact.  I hope tonight, in Nashville, he reaffirms his status as a Bolt and gives everyone in Tampa Bay a chance to sleep easy.  Because you know they’ll be asking him.

Otherwise, we might have a lot more in common with the Ottawa Senators than just Cory Conacher, and at one time Ben Bishop.

We might know now how it felt for that market to lose Daniel Alfredsson, the captain and heart of that team for so many years.  The only difference being that Alfredsson stayed on board until the season was over.  Alfredsson saw the thing through.

My only hope is that Marty does the same thing for us, if this is truly going to inevitably happen, which is very possible, that he at least finishes what the Lightning started in October.

But once again – cart before the horse – I will have to wait, like all of you, Bolts Nation, and see.  Maybe a gold medal and a deep playoff run is all the doctor ordered to sooth the ache of the constantly snubbed:  Marty St. Louis.


Off the Dot is an ongoing column of opinions, feelings and thoughts on all things Tampa Bay Lightning.  This is a knee-jerk reaction column for the many things that a fan maybe feels or thinks throughout a hockey season.

This is NOT a stat by stat analysis of the Bolts, but rather a theater of words concerning the Lightning and the many emotions tangled up in supporting your favorite NHL team; a theater for all fans to come to for a more personal take on Tampa Bay hockey.

That’s why I call it “off the dot”.  Because if we were “on the dot”, as in face-off mode, well, things would be decidedly more on-point and specific.  While off the dot, while we’re still just milling around the face-off circle, as I am now, waiting for the whistle to blow, then we’re just being conversational.  We’re just talking about our thoughts on strategy maybe or whatever random concept happens to come to mind, needing to be expressed.  The fun off-key banter of fans before someone (whoever) decides to hunker down, spread out their skates, and get nose-deep over the dot for the real face-off, and maybe say, statistically speaking, what happened in a win or loss in their more researched opinion.  And we have those articles all over Bolts by the Bay, and I very much encourage you to check out those articles, too.

These are just my opinions, my feelings, and my thoughts – while we’re off the dot.

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