Former Lightning captain Marty St. Louis returned to Tampa last week as an ambassador for the Frozen Four. Though the now-retired wing had a bitter, awkward ending with the Lightning, forcing a trade to the Rangers two years ago, St. Louis said he has kept in touch with some former teammates, including Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ben Bishop and Matt Carle, and the training staff.
"I stay well-connected with the Lightning," he said. "I usually catch third periods (of games) because I have (youth hockey) practices to run."
St. Louis sat in a suite next to Lightning owner Jeff Vinik for Thursday's Frozen Four semifinals. It'll be interesting to see how the potential Hall of Famer's relationship with the organization — and its fans — is repaired in the coming years.
St. Louis offered his thoughts on issues facing the Lightning.
• On Stamkos dealing with a blood clot as the playoffs begin: "It's a tough time. Sometimes life throws you stuff. … You never know what the next day brings. A situation like that makes you appreciate the good days … I feel terrible for (Stamkos), but if anybody can handle it, I know he can. I keep him in my thoughts all the time."
• On whether Stamkos, who can be a free agent July 1, could have played his last game with the Lightning: "He's the face of the franchise, in a contract year. It's going to be talked about. … (Stamkos had) been focused on playing some good hockey and was playing great. … He's at a place in his career where he's going to make a decision. … I don't think anybody close to 'Stammer' is worried about where he's going to be next year. Everybody wants him to be healthy."
• On whether he'd count the Lightning out in the playoffs because of their injuries: "Any team that goes in the playoffs, you can't count them out. (Bishop) is an outstanding goaltender, and every team starts there. I don't know when (defenseman Anton Stralman, broken leg) gets back. You're losing a big piece in Stammer right now. … If you want to make excuses, you're going to be out quick. I don't see this team, this staff, everybody in this organization as people that make excuses. They go to work and try to answer and keep moving on. Do I count them out? Absolutely not."
• On how he wants his career remembered: "I came in my own way. I scratched, clawed, found a way to come in this league and stick, and I went out on my own terms. I am proud of the way I was able to be a top player in this league and stay a top player for a long time. It's hard to do. Helped being healthy. You have a couple of seasons with injuries, it's hard to come back from that and sustain that. For me to be healthy and get to 1,000 games (played)? I was trying to get one in this league. It's special."
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.