Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

How St. Louis trade speculation started

The story was kind of a throwaway, really, more a what-if than anything else. But the item in this newspaper a few weeks ago that wondered if Lightning star Marty St. Louis would consider waving his no-trade clause if general manager Steve Yzerman decided to move him turned into much more.

The story was clear there was no basis for believing Yzerman wanted to trade the greatest points producer in team history or that St. Louis, 37, wished to leave the team for which he has played since 2000. But given the rich return St. Louis would bring, St. Louis' desire to win again before he calls it quits and Tampa Bay's struggles, it might be worth considering.

Still, it wasn't long before Internet- and Twitter-fueled speculation had St. Louis going to perhaps the Bruins or Canadiens. There was enough chatter that Yzerman decided to turn it off for good before it became a distraction.

Usually cryptic when talking about personnel issues, Yzerman was clear Friday, speaking first to espn.com's Pierre Le­Brun and then local reporters, that St. Louis is not going anywhere before Wednesday's trade deadline.

"He's one of our best players," Yzerman said. "He's one of the best players in the league."

St. Louis' kinship with Steven Stamkos is one of the cornerstones of the franchise, and his leadership and the example he sets in a locker room full of rookies are invaluable. And he still is productive.

Entering Saturday, St. Louis' 43 points were fourth in the league, his 35 assists second. So of course teams were calling.

But Yzerman knows if the Lightning is to turn things around, in the short and long term, the team needs a heart and soul, especially now with a new coach trying to establish himself and a roster full of impressionable youngsters fresh out of the minors. Stamkos needs St. Louis, too.

No wonder Yzerman said he is not going to trade St. Louis. Maybe we shouldn't have brought it up in the first place.

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