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Tampa Bay Lightning and star Steven Stamkos keep pressing forward in search of a new contract



Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and the agent for star center Steven Stamkos spoke once on Thursday and are expected to speak again later in the evening. Tim Panaccio of Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia reported the Flyers will not submit an offer sheet for Stamkos.

In what has been a week of hand-wringing and very little news about negotiations between the two sides, those two developments were the most positive to come out of a contract saga everyone by now wants to come to an end.

It has been a mind-numbing experience hasn't it, full of misrepresentations and lies told just to get web site hits, such as the baloney that Stamkos is unhappy in Tampa.

 In reality, what we are seeing is the process of getting a big-time player signed to a contract that works for a team minding its budget and a player who has a league-best 96 goals the past two seasons but should not yet be paid in the Sidney Crosby/Alex Ovechkin stratosphere.

Still, Stamkos, if he is not signed by Friday will be a restricted free agent, and there is some intrigue to that but not as much as the media made of it.

GM Paul Holmgren told Philadelphia reporters he decided not to tender an offer sheet, and that he never really got close to doing so. There also has been plenty of speculation the Maple Leafs could go after Stamkos. After all, he is the hometown boy and why wouldn't he want to play in Toronto?

Actually, the Maple Leafs making such an offer makes even less sense than the Flyers. Toronto isn't nearly as close to a title as Philly, and giving up four first-round draft picks as compensation when a team is still building is a high price to pay.

The thing is, Stamkos wants to play in Tampa, he has said it. The Lightning wants him in Tampa. They have said it. So even if negotiations go beyond July 1 (remember, nothing says Stamkos HAS to sign an offer sheet if he gets one), the odds are that is where he will stay.

[Last modified: Saturday, July 30, 2011 12:15am]


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