Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Feels like there's a final loss still to come for Bolts

STEVEN STAMKOS SIGNED! Autographs, that is, for some 100 fans who lined up early Friday to greet the Bolts at the Tampa Jet Center after their 2-1 loss to the Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Stammer maintains that he still wants to stay in Tampa. We’ll see.

Luis Santana/tbt*

STEVEN STAMKOS SIGNED! Autographs, that is, for some 100 fans who lined up early Friday to greet the Bolts at the Tampa Jet Center after their 2-1 loss to the Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Stammer maintains that he still wants to stay in Tampa. We’ll see.

Have we seen the last of Steven Stamkos in a Lightning sweater?

It sure feels like it.

Really, it felt like it all season, to the very end, even with Stamkos back in the lineup after eight weeks, returning from blood clots, as the Lightning fell short in Game 7 of the conference final in Pittsburgh.

The season is over. Now there's only the door. And Stamkos walking through it. And his introductory news conference, in Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo or wherever.

It's just a question of when No. 91 walks through that door, be it July 1, when he can become an unrestricted free agent, or sometime after.

Feel free to surprise us with an eleventh-hour contract, guys.

It would be the salary cap upset of the century.

Let's not get all weepy here or turn this into an Adele song. Stamkos will make tens of millions of dollars no matter where he goes, and the Lightning will carry on.

It still feels like the end of something.

I think the Lightning is crazy for letting 312 goals and 26 years old walk. I think Stamkos, given the talents around him, is crazy to walk. No one is to blame. Everyone is to blame.

How did a deal not get done last summer? How?

All we had was Stamkos and his teammates packing their hockey bags at Amalie Arena, with no idea where Stamkos will unpack next season.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, who has built a winner here, is up against it. There might be no way to keep this club intact, given the possibility of a stagnant cap, plus all that young Lightning talent that needs raises.

But Stamkos won't and shouldn't take a hometown discount. Free agency is a month away. Why negotiate with one team when he can negotiate with 30 teams?

Friday, Yzerman repeated that he wants Stamkos back, and Stamkos repeated that he wants to be back. Everyone said the right things, but at this point it's all very hollow.

Guys, feel free to jump in here with an agreement in principle …

"Stammer's situation has a significant impact on what we do moving forward and what we can do moving forward," Yzerman said.

Everything breaks from there.

Stamkos said, "There are some tough decisions to be made, not only this organization but a lot of others around the league. … But I'm sure if both sides want to work something out, we'll work something out."

Sure thing.

Feel free to shock us, boys.

It's easy now to wonder why Yzerman didn't sign Stamkos to more than a five-year contract back in 2011. Stamkos was only 21 but already had a 51-goal season and a 45-goal season.

"We had our reasons for making the decisions we did at the time," Yzerman said. "I can't look back and second-guess. It doesn't do any good. We made decisions at the time. And here we are today."

He's got that right.

Could Stamkos have come up bigger in postseasons? Yes. Are his numbers down since he broke his leg early in the 2012-13 season? Yes. Did the Lightning just win two playoff series without him? Yes. Is Nikita Kucherov a shooting star? Yes.

The Lightning is about to watch a generational goal scorer head out the door — without getting anything for him. Think about that.

The Lightning is about to lose a true professional who arrived here eight years ago with a grace and a dignity that have marked his years with the Lightning. A franchise face. Think about that, too.

Stun us whenever you're ready, fellas.

It says something about Stamkos that he worked his way back from serious surgery to play in Game 7. It says something that he lingered to sign autographs for the sprinkling of devout Lightning fans who were there when the team charter from Pittsburgh arrived in Tampa at 2:30 Friday morning,

It feels like the end of something.

Feels like there's a final loss still to come for Bolts 05/27/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 1:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. NFL Week 7: What we learned

    Bucs

    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  2. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  3. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17

    College

    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]