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Stamkos impressing Callahan in contract spotlight

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates scoring a power play goal, the first of the game, beating Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday evening (01/27/16).

DIRK SHADD | Times

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates scoring a power play goal, the first of the game, beating Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday evening (01/27/16).

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos did not speak to the media Wednesday morning, which isn't unusual on days with optional skates.

But that didn't make the Lightning star any less of a topic of discussion with his hometown Maple Leafs in town for a game that night.

There was the usual horde of media from Toronto, as well as Elliotte Friedman, the reporter for Canada's Sportsnet TV network who reported Saturday that the Lightning offered Stamkos, in the final year of his deal, a new eight-year, $68 million contract.

RW Ryan Callahan can relate a little to Stamkos, having been through his own contract saga in 2014 with the Rangers. Callahan eventually was traded at the deadline to the Lightning in the Marty St. Louis deal, then signed a long-term contract in Tampa Bay.

Callahan has been impressed with how Stamkos has handled his situation, not letting it creep into the dressing room or affect his play. Stamkos scored his team-leading 21st goal in Wednesday's first period.

"The biggest thing is not letting it get to you," Callahan said, "coming to the rink and keeping that on the outside and let your agent deal with most of that. That's what you pay him for. It's coming to the rink and doing your job and worry about the team and what you have to do on the ice."

Did it ever get to Callahan?

"You think about it. It's human nature," he said. "You're going to think about it and wonder what's going on. But … I felt like I did a good job of keeping that away from the rink."

Callahan said Stamkos hasn't asked for his advice and teammates haven't pestered the captain about his contract.

"I don't think it's a secret. Everyone wants 'Stammer' here," Callahan said. "He's such a big part of this team, not only what he does on the ice but off the ice. He's a likeable kid. Everyone likes him.

"That's the business end of this. Everybody goes through it. By no means when I went through it in New York, nobody came up to me and said, 'What are you doing? Sign this, do that.' It's (Stamkos') own career and his own decision, and you let that be."

VASY IN: With G Ben Bishop playing in Sunday's All-Star Game, he got a rest Wednesday as Andrei Vasilevskiy made his first since Jan. 19.

"The other guy (Bishop) has played monster minutes all year, plus he's not getting a break for the All-Star (game)," coach Jon Cooper said. "So (Bishop) is going to be putting the pads on and playing meaningful hockey. He'll be competing, at least. So this is an opportunity to give him a little bit of a rest and gives us a chance to play the kid."

NUTS AND BOLTS: RW Jonathan Marchessault returned to the lineup, with RW Erik Condra and D Matt Carle healthy scratches. … The five-day All-Star break for the events in Nashville begins today. The Lightning returns to practice Tuesday before hosting the Red Wings on Wednesday.

Contact Joe Smith at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Stamkos impressing Callahan in contract spotlight 01/27/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 10:51pm]
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