James accurately described my feelings as well as the feelings for many Lightning fans about you since the trade you requested happened on March 5th. Spoiler alert – most of the feelings weren’t good.
You were probably the best Lightning player in the relatively short history of the franchise. With all due respect to players like Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and Dave Andreychuk from the Cup team, you have had the best career wearing our Lightning Bolt on your sweater. With that same respect to Steven Stamkos, whose career should have another 12-15 years to go so time will tell where he ends up in Lightning lore. So far, Marty, you are the best player in the history of the organization.
I could live 100 years and never forget your game 6 overtime goal in Calgary. That was vintage you, Marty. You gave the team the chance to win Lord’s Stanley Cup the next game in Tampa.
Then the trade. You were left off the Canadian Olympic team. Your boss was the person responsible for putting that team together. Oh, I know that Steve Yzerman had a committee that worked with him to put that squad together but he was running point, you were left off the team and before we knew it you were a Blueshirt.
As James said in his article, time heals all wounds and for me even with this wound, it was healing then this morning happened. According to reports, you were interviewed during an off day of the Stanley Cup Finals and you were quoted as saying – “Turned my back? Really? I was there 13, 14 years. Was there anyone more loyal to them in those 14 years?”. Clearly, you are hurt that some of the same fans that loved you have sent the message that they are mad at you.
To that I plead with you to read James’ article. Listen to local sports radio shows. Go to fan pages on Facebook. Marty, can you really be that surprised and hurt by the reaction of the Lightning fans?
Does it shock you to know that 14 years of loyalty that you showed the team and our city was paid back to you at every home game? Can’t you see that while we adored you for those 14 loyal years, we are also bitter about those last disloyal weeks after the Olympic team was announced and you wore your hurt on your sleeve? The sleeve that had a big ole Lightning Bolt on it.
You were our Captain. In the other sports, being a captain doesn’t mean what it means in Hockey. Michael Jordan was never the Captain of those Chicago Bulls teams he led to six championships. Many MLB teams don’t even name a captain. In the NFL, the captain’s main responsibility is to call heads or tails before a coin flip.
You were our Captain, Marty. You followed the likes of Dave Andreychuk and Vinnie Lecavalier. Strong, team first guys who led our Bolts through good times and bad. Through thick and thin. Andreychuk created the rule in the locker room that no one was to step on the Lightning logo. That’s a captain and Marty, you were ours. I cannot remember an NHL Captain ever asking for a trade with 20 games to go in a potential playoff season. Captains don’t do that.
I’m sorry that you are hurt by our reaction, Marty. But please understand, it hurts to see you in another sweater. It hurts to see you one time an OT goal that should be here in the Forum followed by the chorus of “Louie, Louie” and the roars of thousands who loved you. Marty, what we’re feeling must be similar to what you were feeling when Yzerman left you off the Olympic team. You probably thought: why is he turning his back on me? Doesn’t he think I’m good enough? Well, you did to us what you perceived Yzerman did to you. You got mad, well, we’re mad. Not telling you to get over it, just saying you more than anybody should understand.
Marty, we gave you back our loyalty. For every minute of those 14 years, we gave it back to you in spades. I’m sorry you’re hurt but we’re hurt too. You wanting to get out of Tampa so bad hurt us. We’ll get over that as I’m sure you will forget about the hurt we have now. It’s just too fresh. Maybe by next November 25th this will have healed.
On that day, your new team, the New York Rangers will play our Lightning at the Forum at 7:30 p.m. We’ll see how you will be treated by the fans. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that the Forum faithful will greet you with thunderous applause, after all WE ARE THE THUNDER. We will show our loyalty to arguably the best player in our team history. It just may hurt a little doing so.