Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Family, GM rift factor in St. Louis' Lightning exit

TAMPA — Marty St. Louis said being left off the initial Olympic roster for Canada, run by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, definitely "had something to do" with his decision to ask for a trade and leave Tampa Bay.

But St. Louis, dealt Wednesday to the Rangers, said he also wanted to create a situation in which he could spend more time with his family at his Greenwich, Conn., home base.

"I always felt as my kids got older, I would try to come here," St. Louis said Thursday of the New York area. "I think my success and the things that were happening in Tampa kept me there longer than I probably envisioned.

"Sometimes things happen," he said, "and they happen for a reason."

St. Louis, who was in his 13th season with the Lightning, was dealt Wednesday for Ryan Callahan, a 2015 first-round draft pick and a conditional 2014 second-round pick.

In a day St. Louis called "tough and weird," he flew from Tampa to New York on Wednesday and played in the Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs, playing 20:11 and going minus-1.

"In the first period, I'm sitting on the bench and I'm thinking, 'This is so weird.' "

The ongoing story as to why St. Louis left Tampa Bay was the untenable animosity St. Louis felt for Yzerman after St. Louis was left off the initial Olympic roster. But St. Louis' trade request was specific to the Rangers, no coincidence considering the family home in Greenwich and that his wife is from that area.

St. Louis admitted he and Yzerman are not best buddies.

"But there was more to the equation than everybody is saying," St. Louis said. "My family had a huge part in it."

St. Louis said he considered leaving years ago, especially after then-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie traded defenseman Dan Boyle in July 2008.

"But I'll be honest with you," St. Louis said. "(Steven Stamkos) comes along (in the 2008-09 season) and it's a lot of fun playing with Stammer. There were things pulling me in, but every year the equation changes. There are moving parts. You assess."

The most recent assessment:

"One of my biggest things, honestly, is I never see my kids play hockey," St. Louis said. "Just, for instance, my oldest has gone, since September, to Detroit three times, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Rochester, Atlanta. You've got to go outside the state to play pretty good competition. My wife and dad flies with him. I'm not saying Florida hockey is no good, but if you want to play against good competition you have to go outside."

There are more opportunities in the Northeast, St. Louis said.

"It's easier," he said. "With the things between me and Steve and you put in my kids, this was the best thing for everybody."

Despite the bumpy road, St. Louis said his relationship with Yzerman is "professional" and "cordial."

He said he is "grateful" that Yzerman "helped me put my emotions inside to still go to Sochi" when St. Louis was named to Canada's Olympic team as a replacement for the injured Stamkos and considered not going.

"I'm glad he did that," St. Louis said.

As for his time with the Lightning, St. Louis said: "I wouldn't trade them for anything. Those years will always be special to me.

"Tampa is in good hands," he added. "They have a lot of good, young players. They have a great goaltender. I don't feel I'm leaving them stranded. I really don't."

Some fans, though, believe St. Louis, the captain, bailed on a team in a heated playoff fight.

"I didn't make this decision lightly," St. Louis said. "They're great fans and they supported me all along. I'm not expecting them to be happy with my decision, but I hope, over time, they get to respect it."

   
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