TAMPA — It is not lost on Lightning GM Steve Yzerman that star C Steven Stamkos considers Marty St. Louis one of his best friends and a mentor.
That is why, after Yzerman traded St. Louis on Wednesday for Ryan Callahan and two draft picks, Yzerman said he is "concerned" about Stamkos' emotions and how he might now perceive the organization.
"He's an extremely important player and a person for this organization, and I'm concerned all the time about Steven," Yzerman said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to him, but I know (coach Jon Cooper) has. The first chance I have to talk to him about it, and we'll go from there."
One step in that process was naming Stamkos, with two years left on his contract, the franchise's 10th captain. Regardless, Stamkos said the St. Louis trade does not change his perceptions.
"I mean, this had nothing to do with the organization," Stamkos said Thursday. "I'm focused on the task at hand right now. I'm not worried about one, two years down the road. But it doesn't change the view that I have for anyone in this organization."
Stamkos, who played Thursday for the first time since breaking a shinbone in his right leg Nov. 11, admitted playing without St. Louis will be "a little different" because "he was a big part of my career."
That said, "This is a good test for me that I can prove to myself I can play without a guy like that. I'm excited for the chance."
And without any bad feelings.
(Jeff Vinik) is an unbelievable owner, and what we've been able to accomplish since he took over is a step in the right direction," Stamkos said. "We're in that clump of teams that's getting there. We're climbing."
MALONE SCRATCHED: LW Ryan Malone, who is on a career-worst 12-game streak without a point and has gone 17 games without a goal, was scratched against the Sabres. "It's been very hard for myself, obviously," Malone said of his streak.
ETC: Defensemen Keith Aulie and Radko Gudas (leg) and RW B.J. Crombeen also were scratched.