Where there’s smoke, I guess as it turns out, there truly is some fire. After weeks of speculation and rumors galore: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis was traded today to the New York Rangers.
The 13-year Bolts veteran, and the final member of the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship team to leave, St. Louis has been traded to New York, as per request, for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, a 2014 second round pick, and a 2015 first round pick.
All I can immediately say on this matter (because it’s a seriously HUGE subject for any Lightning fan to comprehend and I will need more time to fully process it and come to terms) is if Marty’s wish to be traded has anything to do with the Lightning’s recent struggles at consistency (which I believe it does since play started fluctuating in late January which was when, allegedly, Marty asked GM Steve Yzerman for a trade) then maybe now with his trade secured, much like the removal of a very painful and whiny tooth, the rest of the teeth (or team) will feel free to operate like they have been designed to do.
Chew food; or as this simile is meant to suggest: win games.
The Bolts desperately need to start winning games if they mean to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. And the last four-game road trip out from the Olympic break showed glimmers of another, not too distant, not too successful road trip in November where wins were few and far between.
Over on the West Coast. I have no doubt you all remember it. It was horrendous.
Now I’m not going to go as far as to say that the Bolts looked “horrendous” in Nashville, Dallas, Colorado, and St. Louis (there were those four straight two-goal leads we were able to get, but not keep), but it wasn’t the same team that had the franchise’s best first 40-game record, and it won’t be the team that goes deep into the playoffs, like in 2010, if certain areas are not addressed.
Or if a certain kick in the rear doesn’t come soon enough to wake this Tampa Bay team up into attacking each game like it’s the most important game in a playoff series, which it very well could be if they don’t stop the bleeding before it’s too late.
Now maybe Marty was the bleeding. And maybe a combination of his trade, Steven Stamkos‘ return tomorrow night, and Valtteri Filppula getting healthy is just what the doctor ordered to give this team a shot in the arm.
I really hope that’s true. The Bolts have proven to be a very tenacious team when the collective mindset is that they’re through (like back in November when Stammer broke his tibia). If that mindset suddenly kicks in after losing their captain, and arguably their heart, then we might yet see some of the best hockey from the Lightning this year as the regular season concludes and the post season approaches.
Only time will tell. But hopefully, the Lightning realize that they don’t have a whole lot of time to ponder it over. The time to act is now.