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Why did Tampa Bay's Marty St. Louis decline to play in the Worlds? Here is one theory

6

April

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Marty St. Louis didn't want to talk about why he declined to play for Canada in May's world championship in Germany. But here is one bit of speculation as we try to connect the dots.

St. Louis has to feel as if Hockey Canada let him down when it did not select him for the 2010 Olympic team. And who can blame him for that? St. Louis played in last year's world championship and led the tournament with 11 assists and 15 points. Then, St. Louis has a stellar 2009-10 season -- his 90 points are tied for fifth in the league and are his most since 2006-07 -- and he is left off the roster for the Vancouver Olympics.

More than once St. Louis has said, in addressing that snub, that he is bitter. So, why should St. Louis take three weeks out of his summer and risk injury for an organization that didn't want him in its marquee event?

St. Louis declined to talk about his thinking, preferring, to keep his feelings to himself. But you can't blame him for taking a pass on the world championship and preferring to spend some extra time with his family.

Some stuff from the morning skate: Defenseman Matt Lashoff and center Blair Jones were called up from AHL Norfolk. Lashoff is expected to play, but because Jones was called up on an emergency basis because of Lightning injuries and left wing Ryan Malone, who has missed 12 games after left knee surgery decided to play, Jones will have to sit out. ... Antero Niittymaki gets the start in net. ... Coach Rick Tocchet said he has no plan on how to split the goaltending in the final three games, preferring to take it game-by-game. ... Goalie Mike Smith called his one period of work Friday against the Rangers the most frustrating of his career. He was charged with four goals on seven shots, but three of those goals were put in by his own teammates. hat was one more than originally thought at the time. But Smith said Marc Staal's goal actually deflected in off Steven Stamkos' stick. Add that to the goal that ricocheted in off Lashoff's skate and the one Kurtis Foster pushed into the net while trying to clear a puck from the crease, and it was quite an assault by the Lightning on itself. And don't forget Niittymaki swept a puck into his own net for New York's fifth goal. "I  said, 'Really? Is this really happening?' Smith said. "It's part of being a goalie. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it not so much fun." ... Malone will play after missing 12 games while rehabbing from an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee. Malone, who played for the United States in the Olympics, said he will not play in the world championship because his wife, Abby, is expecting their second child, and second boy on April 18. Malone said the baby is tentatively to be named Cooper James. ... Matt Walker (lower body) is expected to play tonight. But defenseman Victor Hedman (hip flexor) is out, though he may play Thursday against the Senators. Asked if it would be better if he just rested the rest of the season, Hedman said no. "I want to play," he said. "I want to win these last four games and take that into next season." ... Interesting stuff from Jones about how the Admirals players felt when they lost coach Jim Johnson when he was promoted to Lighting assistant. Johnson was 13-2-2 after taking over for the fired Darren Rumble. "It was tough," Jones said. "We felt we had a good thing going. We were on fire, like the hottest team in the league. To lose Jim like that was a bit deflating. That guy was our leader, so to speak, so to lose someone like that is tough. Give credit to the guys who stepped in (Leigh Mendelson as coach and Ben Eaves as assistant went 6-6-2), they were put in a tough situation and handled it the best they could." Norfolk still is fighting for a playoff spot. "He's preparing the guys," Jones said. "He wants in bad, and so do the guys." ... Liked this quote from center Vinny Lecavalier on Stamkos, who needs four goals in the team's final four games to reach 50: "I think he's going to have many more years to do it. He's a natural scorer, a pure scorer. Not many guys can shot like him. He's the type of player, he might do it another eight or 10 times or more. That's how good his shot is." As for Stamkos' upside, Lecavalier said, "He's got the speed. He's got the shot to beat any goalie. His biggest asset is he's driven, and he's mature enough at 20 to know where he's going and knows what he has to do to take it to the next level. It's amazing where he is right now. He's just going to get better, for sure." ... And for those who actually read the story in today's paper on Stamkos, I made one minor goof. Stamkos generally takes his one-timer on the power play from the left faceoff circle, not the right; though it is the circle to the goalie's right. Sorry for the confusion.      

[Last modified: Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:15am]

    

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