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Tampa Bay Lightning star Marty St. Louis: "Tampa is the No. 1 place I wanted to be"

When last season ended, Tampa Bay Lightning star Marty St. Louis said he might request a trade if he did not like the direction of the team over the summer. But that was before Steve Yzerman was hired as the general manager, St. Louis said. And before he heard Yzerman's plan.

"I had seen both sides of the mountain in Tampa," St. Louis said. "I'd seen the good days and the bad days. I needed something that showed we were going to win here now. ... When they hired Steve Yzerman, I just felt, 'This is the guy.' "

So, it seems to have worked out for St. Louis, 35, who on Thursday signed a four-year contract extension worth $22.5 million and locks him up through 2014-15. He said his family loves it in Tampa, and while he allowed himself to think about where he might want to go if things didn't work out here, he said, "Tampa was always the No. 1 place I wanted to be."

"I was just getting frustrated the last two years," he added. "But with the ownership change and when they hired Steve Yzerman, I said, 'This is great.' This is going to get turned around. He has a plan. I feel like I'm going to be proud again to be a Lightning. I'm looking forward to getting back in the playoffs and seeing some of our young guys mature and help this franchise win. There is nothing like winning in Tampa. Tampa is great when you win."

He said he knows the change won't happen overnight. Still, he said, "I wanted an extension of at least four years, so if the plan doesn't work right away, it might work i three years, four years. I think we're not that far away from being a team that can be dangerous every year."

St. Louis, who will be 39 at the end of his new contract, also said he relishes the chance to retire as a Lightning player.

"Not many players get to play with the same organization pretty much their whole career," said the win, who came the the Lightning as a free agent in July 2000. "When all is said and done, I can retire with (15) years in one city. I couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to retire as a Lightning player."   

[Last modified: Saturday, July 31, 2010 12:15am]

    

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