Exit interview: Lightning's Marty St. Louis says, "We're not that far away. I totally believe that"
Marty St. Louis, who will turn 37 in June, knows he's not getting any younger. But the Tampa Bay Lightning wing said he has faith the team will quickly bounce back from this season's disappointment and that general manager Steve Yzerman will make the right moves this summer. If he didn't believe that, St. Louis said, he would have thought about playing elsewhere.
St. Louis spoke about about why the team faltered this season, why it is possible to turn things around quickly and assisting on Steve Stamkos' 60th goal:
On being out of the playoffs: Well, I mean, I think it just didn’t happen overnight. Not that the pain gets any easier but you’re more prepared for this knowing you’re not going to be in it. It’s not like you win your last game and you’re in. We had time to deal with the reality, I guess. So, it’s disappointing, but it’s not like we didn’t know this was coming.
On team being close to being a playoff contender: We’re not that far away. I totally believe that. Even this year, it’s five wins. With all the injuries we had, it’s five wins. It’s easy to look back and think of five games you should have won, but we had a tough start, our schedule wasn’t easy at the beginning. It’s a lot harder to win on the road and we just couldn’t catch our breath. We couldn’t feel good about ourselves from the get-go starting on the road. We played some good games but still didn’t get the job done. You feel like you’re behind the 8-ball the whole time. But it’s easy to be here and say coulda, shoulda, woulda, you know? The bottom line is we didn’t get the job done. There are things you can’t control, but just didn’t get it done.
On his faith in management: For sure. You look at teams like Jersey and Ottawa; you feel like every team is only a couple of players away from turning it around. There’s things you can’t control like injuries, so every team that starts training camp feels that they have a chance and I’m sure we’re going to feel that way when we come back next year. But I do have full faith in what Steve can being and what he will do this summer.
On getting it turned around quickly: As you get older you want a whack at the playoffs and the games in late may and early June, and I think Steve knows that and is aware of that, and if I didn’t believe that we can be playing those games next year, maybe I’d think about playing somewhere else. But I firmly believe we can be in that battle next June because I know what Steve can bring. I’m optimistic. I believe in the pieces we have here and we’ll see where we are as the summer goes. But it’s always an exciting time when the draft gets going and the possibilities. Obviously, Steve got a lot of assets at the deadline -- draft picks and stuff -- so I’m looking forward to see what we do with all that and I know he’s going to make our team better for next year. He wants to be playing hockey in late May, June as well, so I’m looking forward to it.
On getting the primary assist on Steve Stamkos’ 60th goal: It felt good to be part of something like that. Stammer, he’s a goal scorer and he gets so close to that number you want to push him through, so I was glad that I was able to give him a chance to put the puck in the net. I remember the first time he hit 50 (2009-10) I had assists on a lot of his goals but (Zenon) Konopka had the assist on his 50th, so this year I think I got the 50th and 60th, so it’s kind of nice.
On if a player from a non-playoff team can be MVP: Yeah, definitely considered. I think it’s a tougher thing to win, but there’s no doubt Stammer had an MVP season, so if he’s not considered I’d be very surprised.
On the labor situation: Honestly, I haven’t thought about that right now. I don’t know. I feel it’s all about deadlines, so hopefully they get started, but I feel like it’s all about deadlines.
On if union director Donald Fehr provided optimism: Yeah, I mean, he definitely gave us confidence in what we believe as a union and what he believes as well as our leaders. I feel we’re in good hands and we’ve got to let him do his job.