Stamkos hopes Yzerman's no-trade statement 'lightens the load'
Now that general manager Steve Yzerman made it clear publicly Monday that Steven Stamkos isn't getting traded, the Lightning captain is happy he can now focus on hockey the rest of the season.
"It's been a tough year in that regard to deal with that stuff," Stamkos said. "So hopefully this lightens the load a little bit. I've said all along from training camp that I wanted to be here and I want to win a championship here."
Stamkos, 26, in the final year of his contract, could be an unrestricted free agent July 1. He has a no-move clause, but had not been asked by the Lightning to waive it. Monday's statement by Yzerman was apparently a mutual decision by both parties to shift the focus on the playoff push.
"Obviously this is a decision by both parties that we thought was the best route on something that I wanted," Stamkos said. "I'm obviously looking forward to not having to deal with all the questions for the remainder of the season and just focus on hockey and just do my best to help the team win."
Stamkos ranks second on the team with 22 goals, on pace for his lowest goal total in a non lockout or injury shortened season since his rookie year.
"Obviously I feel like I have more to give, and maybe this helps just coming to the rink and focusing on my game and what I have to do to lead this team and help this team continue our playoff push," Stamkos said.
The Lightning has maintained Stamkos' contract saga has not been a distraction, but players were still happy to here the captain will remain with the team at least through the end of the season.
"We never really thought anything differently," center Tyler Johnson said. "To us, he's part of our group. He's our captain. He's our guy. We don't listen to the media. You guys make everything crazy. So we stay away from that as much as possible.
"It's exciting that we know we've got this group, don't know what's going to happen anywhere else, but we have a lot of confidence in this group. We took it pretty far last year, and hopefully we take it one step further."
More from morning skate: G Ben Bishop will start in net against the Sharks as the Lightning try to bounce back after losing three of the last four games... Coach Jon Cooper is sick and not at today's skate, but will coach tonight, associate coach Rick Bowness said... C Vladislav Namestnikov, who got hurt on a hit into the boards Sunday, will be a game-time decision and might be out. Bowness indicated the Lightning could go with seven defensemen, with D Slater Koekkoek drawing in. RW Jonathan Marchessault came off the ice before RW Erik Condra, so he could be in... D Matt Carle will play in his 700th career NHL game tonight against the Sharks, which drafted him. "It's kind of fitting how it's coming against the team that I played my first game with," Carle said. "It's a special night. Any time you get these milestone games come up, you take time to reflect a little bit on your career and the people that helped me along the way. 700 sounds like a lot, but it's gone by pretty quick." The Lightning lines were switched up, looking like they did at the end of Sunday's game, with the Triplets back together and Stamkos at center with Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn. "Obviously try to switch things up," Stamkos said. "We haven't scored a lot lately, so we'll try to spark something."