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Stamkos named to Canada's Olympic team, St. Louis left off

7

January

WINNIPEG - Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he is not going to worry about how Marty St. Louis will handle being left off Canada's Olympic team.

"It's wasted energy," Cooper said. "Knowing Marty, this is probably going to motivate the snot out of him."

On a day the Tampa Bay organization should have been celebrating the seven players it will send to next month's games in Sochi, Russia - Steven Stamkos (Canada); Valtteri Filppula and Sami Salo (Finland); Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat (Czech Republic); Richard Panik (Slovakia); and Kristers Gudlevskis (Latvia) -- most of the talk was about those staying home.

In another shocker, D Victor Hedman was let off Sweden's team. G Ben Bishop last week was excluded from the U.S team.

"I'm not going to say we're going to make the playoffs, but if it started today we'd be in," Cooper said. If you look at the three guys who are driving the bus at each position of our team, it's Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman and Marty St. Louis. It's a shame the hockey world is not going to see any of those guys play in February.

St. Louis' situation is the most intriguing. Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman is Canada's executive director and held the same job in 2010 when St. Louis was left off Canada's gold-medal team.

St. Louis wasn't happy about it then, and he has made it clear how much he wanted to play in this year's Olympics, acknowledging that at age 38 this probably is his last shot. With 17 goals, 38 points in 42 games and with the way he elevated his game after Stamkos was injured, he put himself firmly in the conversation.

But reports out of Canada said the Olympic coaching staff led by Red Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't sold on St. Louis, and it was unclear if Yzerman, because he is St. Louis' GM, recused himself from those debates.

Either way, the news, delivered by phone by Yzerman, in Toronto to make the Olympic team announcement, was crushing for St. Louis, who declined to talk to reports before the game with the Jets at the MTS Centre.

"It's tough," said Stamkos, whose own participation depends on his recovery from a broken right tibia. "I don't know what more you can do or expect from him to be able to make the team. It's tough to see Marty as upset as he was. He worked extremely hard to get an opportunity to put himself in the mix."

Asked if he was worried about how the news would affect St. Louis' play, Stamkos said, "Time will tell. This was very near and dear to his heart."

Yzerman, in a television interview with Canada's TSN network, said his phone call to St. Louis "was not one I was looking forward to doing," though he did not get into specifics about why St. Louis was left off the team.

"Personally, it's a very difficult decision," Yzerman said. "It was a tough one in 2010 as well. He's an outstanding hockey player and a high-character person."

That is what the Lightning is counting on.

"He's human, so I don't care if you're one year in the league or 20, he's disappointed as we all are," Cooper said. "But he's a pro, and if there's one guy who can handle it, it's Marty."

"Hopefully, he can bounce back," Stamkos said. "We really need him on this team. He's been carrying the load. He's our leader. He's a warrior, a competitor. He's going to come out stronger, I think."

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 10:28am]

    

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