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Stamkos watch as Leafs in town: 'Everyone wants Stammer here'

Ryan Callahan said Lightning players aren't talking to Steven Stamkos, pictured, about his contract, or trying to recruit him.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ryan Callahan said Lightning players aren't talking to Steven Stamkos, pictured, about his contract, or trying to recruit him.

27

January

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos did not speak this morning after the optional morning skate.

But that didn't make Stamkos any less of a topic of discussion with his hometown Maple Leafs in town. There were a horde of media from Toronto, as well as Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, who broke the story Saturday of the Lightning making an offer of eight years, $68 million to Stamkos, who is in the final year of his contract.

Coach Jon Cooper reiterated the Stamkos contract saga, not to mention the Jonathan Drouin trade request, haven't creeped into the dressing room. And veteran wing Ryan Callahan echoed that point. Callahan has been in this situation, the former Rangers captain in the final year of his contract in 2014 before getting traded at the deadline to the Lightning in the Marty St. Louis trade.

"The biggest thing is not letting it get to you," Callahan said. "Coming to the rink and keeping that on the outside and let your agent deal with most of that, that's what you pay him for. It's coming to the rhink and doing your job and worry about the team and what you have to do on the ice."

Did it ever get to Callahan?

"You think about it, it's human nature," Callahan said. "You're going to think about it, and wonder what's going on. But I tried and I felt like I did a good job of keeping that away from the rink."

Callahan said players aren't talking to Stamkos about his contract, or trying to recruit him.

"I don't think it's a secret, everyone wants Stammer here," Callahan said. "He's such a big part of this team, not only what he does on the ice, but off the ice. He's a likeable kid, everyone likes him.

"That's the business end of this. Everybody goes through it. By no means when I went through it in New York, nobody came up to me and saids, 'What are you doing? Sign this, do that.' It's his own career and his own decision and you let that be."

The Lightning (26-14-8) is trying to focus on tonight's game, its final one before a five-day All-Star break begins Thursday. With Tampa Bay in a stretch of one game in 11 days, these are a critical two points, especially with the Lightning hanging on to the top wild card spot.

Coaches met with players Tuesday morning in Brandon emphasizing that fact. The Lightning snapped a seven-game streak with a loss Saturday in Sunrise, and doesn't want to "exhale." "We're certainly not happy with how we played in the second period in Florida and how we just blew the game, and it was more us than them," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "When you beat yourself in games like that, it's very frustrating. Our guys are well-aware after the meeting (Tuesday) of the importance of the game (today) and the importance of rebounding from a bad game."

More from today: The Lightning had an optional morning skate. G Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net against the Maple Leafs, with All-Star Ben Bishop getting a rest before he participates in this weekend's All-Star activities in Nashville. Cooper said D Matt Carle will sit out and RW Jonathan Marchessault will be back in the lineup, meaning RW Erik Condra is scratched.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 1:01pm]

    

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