Let’s go back. For those of you who haven’t been following along, the St. Louis story broke when Boomer Esiason, via twitter, said a Ryan Callahan trade was imminent, and gave hints about the player moving to the New York Rangers – hints that added up to Martin St. Louis. Not many people were taking these rumors seriously.
Why did we not take them seriously? Because in order for Martin St. Louis-for-Ryan Callahan to be true, several conditions would also have to be true, conditions that included cartoon villainry not seen since The Return of Jafar. We all knew there was no way Yzerman would trade St. Louis for Callahan – Callahan is a good player, but he’s a far cry from St. Louis. So in order for the rumor to be true, St. Louis would have to be the one forcing the issue, by not only demanding a trade, but also by demanding a trade specifically to the New York Rangers. A trade that, make no mistake, will hurt the Lightning.
By morning, Nick Kypreos had tweeted that St. Louis had indeed requested a trade sometime in early January. And now? Well, it seems our beloved Marty St. Louis has grown into the cartoon villain of your choice, because the rumors appear to be largely true.
We all knew St. Louis’s feelings were hurt after he was left off Canada’s Olympic team in early January. The most overused phrase by reporters about St. Louis during that time was: “he’s a proud guy.” And, of course, we know that’s true. It’s what makes Marty St. Louis Marty St. Louis.
Unfortunately, what makes Steve Yzerman Steve Yzerman is that he makes hard decisions, regardless of the situation, and regardless of hurt feelings. After he was out-voted by his Team Canada selection committee, Yzerman left St. Louis off the team the same as he’d have left off any other player on which he was out-voted. For Yzerman to put St. Louis on the team in that situation would not only have been playing favorites, it would also have been unethical. Neither of which are things you’ll find on Yzerman’s resume. (Imagine, for instance, that Yzerman had named Eric Brewer to Team Canada, despite being out-voted by his own committee. We’d all have cried “Favoritism.” In St. Louis’s case, there wouldn’t have been an outcry, but the same would’ve been true.)
So that’s where we stand. Marty St. Louis wants to be a Ranger. What’s worse, his teammates know he wants to be a Ranger. What’s worse, he’s their captain. What’s worse, almost half of them, his teammates, are getting their first real NHL experience right now.
Remember how we all thought the worst adversity this team would face this year was Steven Stamkos‘s broken leg? Nope. This new adversity is an absolute perfect storm. And one way or another, it needs resolution.
Nothing would make me happier than firing up one of my many preferred hockey websites tomorrow (or in the next five minutes, actually) and seeing Marty St. Louis put this whole thing to bed. I’d love to see him say, “I was angry, but it’s over, and I’m happy to be a member of the Lightning and I don’t want to go anywhere.” Unfortunately, that’s not in my crystal ball.
Here’s the problem: It’s unlikely that his teammates are just now hearing about this mess. Small rumors have likely been going around the locker room since early January. Since January 9th, which is about the time we can assume wind of Marty’s trade request hit the locker room, the Lightning have gone 7-8-1. Coincidence?
A lot of those performances have been lackluster at best. Of course, there could be many factors involved in the Bolts going cold. They’re a young team, after all, and this is the first stretch run of most of their NHL careers. But how about this for a factor: their captain’s heart is in New York. And they know it.
So maybe resolution means St. Louis is traded. And maybe the sooner it happens, the better. The sooner this team is looking at Steven Stamkos as their captain, the better. They’ll lose an incredible player, and a player who’s been the heart and soul of this team for a very long time. But they might regain their focus.