Years later, Marty St. Louis and the Flames are still connected
It is inevitable. Every time the Lightning goes to Calgary -- Tampa Bay faces the Flames tonight -- the questions for Marty St. Louis are about the organization that let him get away.
"I always reminisce a little bit," St. Louis said of returning to the Scotiabank Saddledome, "especially in that corner."
The corner is from where St. Louis began the play that ended with him scoring perhaps the most important goal in Tampa Bay history; the one that won Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final over Calgary -- 3-2 in double overtime -- and sent the series back to Tampa, where the Lightning took the championship.
But if St. Louis holds any hard feelings against the Flames, who bought out his contract in 2000 after he played 69 games for them from 1998-2000, he does not let on. In fact, he understands how the new regime in Calgary at the time was not aware of the progress he believes he was making with the franchise.
"I felt that my role that second season I was here I was getting better as the year was going," St. Louis said. "I could feel more comfortable and confident. I could feel it with the guys that were here that they had confidence in what I was trying to do."
"The people that liked me, cared about me, so to speak, they were all gone, so it's not like I felt betrayed," St. Louis said. "When everybody gets fired, it's hard. I don't hold any grudges."
St. Louis signed with Tampa Bay in the summer of 2000 as a free agent and is the franchise's greatest points producer and perhaps its greatest player. He scored it's greatest goal in a game he said represents how different the NHL is now.
"I watched that game a bunch of times and there was no room," St. Louis said. "There was nothing. I had zero shots on net. That (the double overtime goal) was my first shot. I look back and as I'm watching the game I'm thinking I should have shot here, shot there. But there wasn't really opportunities to shoot, it was so tight, hooking, holding."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets the start in net tonight against the Flames. ... Coach Jon Cooper wouldn't commit one way or another on defenseman Sami Salo (upper body), but Salo stayed on the ice late, a good indicator that he is out. ... Forwards B.J. Crombeen and Tom Pyatt also are out. ... Tampa Bay will see an old friend tonight as Karri Ramo gets the start in net for Calgary. It will be Ramo's first game against the team that drafted him 191st overall in 2004. "It's nice to play against your former team," said Ramo, who was 11-21-10 in 48 games with Tampa Bay from 2006-09 said. "The whole organization has changed a lot since I was there. In that way it's just another game, but it was a team I played for before so it's always nice to face them." ... After so long languishing near the bottom of the league in average shots on goal, Tampa Bay has at least 30 in eight of its past 11 games and has moved up to tie for 17th in the league with an average of 29.6. "It's taken into three or four months to pound into guys what we want done and what's been successful and what hasn't," Cooper said. "The message has been when you read the boxscore the next day nobody says how it went in, it just went in. We've taken a little bit more of a workman-like approach. And the other thing is we've had the puck a little bit more. So when you have it more you tend to get more shots."