Whether or not Marty St. Louis formally asked for a trade doesn't really matter much at this point.
The Lightning captain and general manager Steve Yzerman had a chance to squelch speculation that St. Louis wants out and Yzerman is talking to teams.
Instead, St. Louis threw fuel Wednesday on what had been merely a smoldering fire and at least created the perception he has asked to be moved, and Yzerman took his version of the Fifth Amendment.
"The only thing I can say about that is I've had conversations with Steve on my future here," St. Louis said after practice at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "Out of respect for my teammates, that's all I'm going to say about that."
Said Yzerman: "I'm not going to comment on trade rumors in this situation or any situation."
In other words, fasten your seat belts for seven days of speculation and rumors in the run-up to Wednesday's trade deadline.
It's just the kind of turmoil it would seem the Lightning, which opens a four-game road trip — all against playoff contenders — tonight against the Predators, doesn't need.
Defenseman Eric Brewer acknowledged, "the uncertainty is not ideal."
But he also said, "Guys aren't made of sugar, right? They're not going to melt."
"It's a couple of extra questions you have to answer," center Steven Stamkos said, "but I don't think it really circulates around the room where guys are thinking about it constantly."
Still, this is about St. Louis, the franchise's greatest player who this season has team highs of 25 goals and 31 assists in 58 games.
It is the continuation of a story that began Jan. 7, when St. Louis was left off the Olympic roster for Team Canada, of which Yzerman was executive director.
St. Louis, admittedly bitter, was added as a replacement for the injured Stamkos and won a gold medal. But St. Louis' feelings are raw enough that even owner Jeff Vinik spoke to him.
The thing is, the Lightning is in a heated playoff race in which all players need to row in the same direction. Alternate captain Nate Thompson said he's not worried about St. Louis' commitment.
"I don't think anyone is going to question or second-guess Marty's motives, ever," Thompson said. "He's a first-class player, a first-class person. We believe in him no matter what. What goes on between him and Steve is between him and Steve."
It's not publicly known what went on between St. Louis and Yzerman, who have spoken several times since St. Louis was left off Canada's roster.
"I'm not going to get into answering these questions every day," said St. Louis, 38, who has one year left on his contract. "These are conversations I've had between me and Steve, and they're going to stay that way."
St. Louis' agent did not return phone and text messages.
So with no one saying anything of substance on the record, this is what is known:
New York's Newsday reporting St. Louis asked for a trade last month; the New York Post reporting the Rangers offered wing Ryan Callahan; and Bob McKenzie of tsn.ca reporting St. Louis, with a house in Greenwich, Conn., would waive his no-move clause to go to New York.
And St. Louis and Yzerman saying nothing to make us believe otherwise.
NOTES: Goalie Anders Lindback (ankle) was sent to AHL Syracuse for conditioning, meaning Kristers Gudlevskis will be the backup. … Center Vlad Namestnikov was recalled from the Crunch. It was unclear if either center Valtteri Filppula (ankle) or Tyler Johnson (foot), both of whom practiced Wednesday, was too sore to play or if the move was precautionary.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.
Lightning at Predators
When/where: 8; Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM
Key stats: Lightning G Ben Bishop is tied for third in the league with 28 victories and a 1.98 goals-against average and is tied for second with a .933 save percentage. … Tampa Bay is 12-6-2 against the West but on a 1-4-0 road streak. … The Predators are the only team that has not allowed a shorthanded goal. … Nashville is 17-1-1 when leading after the first period. … Shea Weber is tied for the league lead among defensemen with 15 goals.