New Lightning forward Ryan Shannon excited to play with "role model" St. Louis
To new Lightning forward Ryan Shannon, alternate captain Marty St. Louis has always been a role model.
Like St. Louis, Shannon is on the smaller side (5-foot-9, 175-pounds), went undrafted, and actually works out with the same trainer in the summer in Darien, Connecticut.
“When I found out he was going to be training there, it was unbelievable,” said Shannon, 28. “My heart stopped.”
Shannon even wore the same number (No. 26) as St. Louis last season with the Senators, but after signing a one-year, $625,000 free agent deal earlier this month, he was glad to defer to the reigning Hart Trophy finalist.
“I lost rock-paper-scissors with Marty,” he joked. “So I’m ready to change (numbers).”
Shannon actually hopes to wear No. 22, which he had all through childhood (including on a 13-year-old pee wee team called the Tampa Bay Lightning). He had a trading card of him in the Lightning jersey for Friday’s meet-and-greet with the local media.
“It kind of fits,” he said.
With Shannon’s speed, smarts and versatility, he could find himself fitting in among the top-six in the Lightning lineup, as well as on the penalty kill. With his fourth team in five seasons (having won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2006-07 season), Shannon is coming off a breakout year with the Senators, racking up career highs with 11 goals and 27 points.
“I found my game,” he said. “I’ll fill whatever role the team sees fit. I’ve been a versatile forward so far in the league, whether it’s playing big minutes or playing less minutes, just trying to make it work.”
Shannon said once he found out the Lightning was interest, that became his first choice, because of their style of play and commitment of the organization.
“A lot of teams try to slow it down, but this plan is all about speed and puck possession,” Shannon said of the Lightning style. “And that’s where I flourish.”
While a week went by in the free agency period before Shannon signed (July 7), he kept his mind occupied by taking care of his baby daughter, Emma, who is a month old today.
“I learned how to change diapers, learn how to bottle feed, and burp the baby, and ended up in Tampa, so it worked out great,” he said.
As did Shannon’s reunion with St. Louis, and he plans on doing “a lot of listening.”
“He’s focused, determined and he’s a good guy, people like him,” Shannon said. “He’s got a harmonious type of personality and I think that takes him a long way. I heard he’s pretty bitter when things don’t go well, and you don’t win.”
Shannon smiled, and said, “So I think you want to win to keep Marty happy.”
--- JOE SMITH