Today is a very bittersweet day here in Tampa Bay. As we welcome back Lightning center Steven Stamkos to the lineup after missing a little over three months due to injury, we also say goodbye to the player that has been considered the heart and soul of the Tampa Bay Lightning for as long as many can remember, Martin St. Louis.
There are many people in Tampa Bay who are sad to see him leave; however, there are some that are full of anger and disappointed in the captain for “abandoning” his team.
No matter which side of this argument you are on, there is one thing for sure; absolutely no one other that St. Louis and Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman who know exactly what was said behind closed doors and what prompted the captain to want to leave a team that he called home for so many years.
Before taking his leave of the Bolts Nation, St. Louis addressed the fans, thanking them for all the love and support that he has been given throughout the years and to shed a little light on the situation from his point of view.
Here is a look at his letter in its entirety courtesy of The Tampa Tribune:
“Today is a bittersweet day for me. I am sad that this chapter of my career is over. I have had 14 wonderful years in Tampa and have cherished being a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I would like to thank Mr. Vinik, Tod Leiweke, Steve Yzerman, Bill Wickett, Jon Cooper and the coaching staff and the entire Lightning organization for everything they have done for me through the years and today.
“Mr. Vinik is an amazing owner and man, I am and will remain entirely thankful and appreciative of him and everything he has done for me and my family. I am also so thankful to the unbelievable fans of Tampa Bay.
“When I arrived here in 2000, you all supported and believed in me when not many did. You have continued to support me through the years and I am extremely thankful for it! I know many of you are disappointed with me for my decision to want to leave.
“I would rather not discuss what brought me to that decision, but in the end this is a decision for my family. I respect the fact that many of you do not agree with my decision and are angry with it. All I really can say is that I am sorry and I am very appreciative of the support you have shown me through the years.
“Last but not least, I want to thank my teammates and the training staff. I have made some friends here who will be my friends for life. I will miss them all.
“My wife, my 3 boys and I will always hold Tampa very near and dear to our hearts. This has been our home and where we have built an amazing life. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Tampa for everything you have provided me and my family.”
According to his final address to the loyal fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning, his decision was made for the betterment of his family. You can choose to accept this, or you can choose to condemn it; no matter which side you are on, that choice is in your hands. However, before you throw the hammer down, make sure that you have looked at this from both sides of the ice.
No matter what happens, or where he may hang his jersey for the final time, Martin St. Louis will always be my favorite player; a man who laid it all out on the ice every single time he laced up his skates, and gave everything he had to our team. Unfortunately, like every great ride, the journey must come to an end.
Which side of the ice do you sit on in this matter? All emotions aside, do you think that there will ever be another player that will truly match up to the legacy that Martin St. Louis leaves behind in Tampa Bay? Let us know what you think in the comments below.