Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Babcock: Lightning's St. Louis will get chance in Sochi

As has been reported, Red Wings and Team Canada coach Mike Babcock said Lightning captain Marty St. Louis was a unanimous choice among Canada's coaches and management team to be Steven Stamkos' replacement at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

It was a noteworthy item coming from Babcock, because the scuttle­butt coming out of the process for picking the original team was that coaches weren't sold on St. Louis.

True or not, Babcock, in Tampa for Saturday night's game between the Lightning and Red Wings, certainly made it sound as if he will give St. Louis every chance to earn playing time.

"He's one of 14 forwards," Babcock said. "He's going to arrive in Sochi like everybody else. He gets the same opportunity like everybody else.

"What everybody has got to do is they have to find a way to grab their piece."

Babcock told the story of Kings center Mike Richards, whom Babcock told before the 2010 Games in Vancouver he would be Canada's 13th forward. Instead, Richards became integral to Canada's gold-medal run with seven points in five games.

"He laughed," Babcock said of their initial conversation. "And I laughed, too, because I thought that was a great response. In the end … he played big minutes and was fantastic. Other guys started on the first line and didn't play much.

"Life's about seizing the opportunity you've been given and make the best of it. Be a good pro, be a good teammate, understand it's not about you, it's about Canada and you'll all be fine."

Babcock didn't begrudge St. Louis' admitted bitterness about being left off the original team, but he also said it is time to move on.

"I think everyone is allowed to be bitter, but you get up and get on with it, you know what I mean?" Babcock said. "That's life. If you go through his career he's been called out lots of times for the fact that, 'Oh, you're too small, you're too this,' and he's just been determined.

"That's all over with … that stuff. You're on the team, now you've got to find a way to be part of it."

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