Back in Tampa, Martin St. Louis talks about Lightning, Stamkos
Former Lightning star Martin St. Louis is back at Amalie Arena this week, as a guest of the Frozen Four, which returns to Tampa for the second time in four years.
He spoke with reporters during a break in Thursday's semifinals and talked about a range of subjects, including this year's Lightning team as it heads into the playoffs.
• On returning to Tampa, where he played for 972 games, piling up 365 goals and 588 assists: "It really feels like I'm back in my hometown. I feel like I grew up here in so many ways. My kids were born here, raised here. ... I was here for 14 years. It's a big part of my life. I realized when I landed here, I was like 'Wow, this is home."
• On keeping in touch with his old Lightning teammates this season: "There's not many guys I had a chance to build up relationship with, but Stammer, Heddy, Bish, Matty Carle. There are trainers -- I stay well-connected with the Lightning. I usually catch third periods because I have (youth hockey) practices to run."
• On Stamkos dealing with a serious injury as the playoffs begin: "It's a tough time. Sometimes, life throws you stuff and it's just life. You never know what the next day brings. A situation like that makes you appreciate the good days, from his broken leg to what he's going through right now. I feel terrible for him, but if anybody can handle it, I know he can. I keep him in my thoughts all the time."
• On whether Stamkos could have played his last game with the Lightning: "He's the face of the franchise, in a contract year. It's going to be talked about. You guys have a job to do. Stammer's been focused on playing some good hockey and was playing great. Right now, it's everybody and Stammer getting healthy and the rest will usually take care of itself. ... He's at a place in his career where he's going to make a decision. That's where he is. I don't think anybody close to Stammer is worried about where he's going to be next year. Everybody wants him to be healthy."
• On his great fortune to play alongside three great centers in Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Steven Stamkos: "I was blessed. You look at the centermen I played with: You're talking Lecavalier, Richards, Stamkos. How many guys can say that, that they've had that kind of centermen to play with? I want all those guys to do well. They've helped me along the way and I'm pulling for all of those guys."
• On whether he'd count the Lightning out because of their injuries: "Any team that goes in the playoffs, you can't count them out. Bish is an outstanding goaltender and every team starts there. I don't know when (Stralman) gets back. You're losing a big piece in Stammer right now and who knows when he gets back. If you want to make excuses, you're going to be out quick. I don't see this team, this staff, everybody in this organization as people that make excuses. They go to work and try to answer and keep moving on. Do I count them out? Absolutely not."
• On how he wants his career remembered: "I came in my own way. I scratched, clawed, found a way to come in this league and stick, and I went out on my own terms. I am proud of the way I was able to be a top player in this league and stay a top player for a long time. It's hard to do. Helped being healthy. You have a couple of seasons with injuries, it's hard to come back from that and sustain that. For me to be healthy and get to 1,000 games? I was trying to get one in this league. It's special."