Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dear Martin St. Louis: We're mad and sad you left the Lightning

Editor's note: In light of the National Hockey League's trade deadlines last week, Tampa Bay Lightning fans had one question they didn't really want the answer to: What would happen to their captain, Martin St. Louis? After a media explosion of speculation, fans finally got their answer: He'd be leaving us for the New York Rangers. If you're reading, Marty, know that the feelings expressed here by tb-two* student editor Katie Lamont are shared by legions of your fans.

To my (ex) captain,

This feels more like a bad breakup than a trade. In fact, I had to splash some water on my face to make sure I'm not dreaming. You, Marty St. Louis, Tampa's pride and glory, are leaving.

Not only that, you want to.

You want to leave the team that shaped your career, and leave behind the fans who have been raised to defend you. (I grew up ready to snap back at any "short" jokes.)

So this is hard to accept. I get your reasons for going, I really do. New York is where your family is. It was where you originally intended to play and stay. I get it. . . But what about us? To most fans, you meant a lot more than just the reason they had bragging rights for the Lightning. You were a hero, a legend. Teenagers learned to think of you as the Wayne Gretzky of Tampa Bay.

You were. And still are. It's weird to consider a legacy could end over a dispute that obviously boiled over. We may not know the details, but I can tell you this: An Olympic roster by no means marks who is the best. Besides, even though you were irritated that general manager Steve Yzerman at first didn't select you for Team Canada, you got your gold medal, Marty, when you were picked after Steven Stamkos' injury ruled him out.

Fans in Tampa will miss you, but please give us some time before you start gushing over how wonderful New York is. We hockey fans are emotional people who form attachments too easily. So let the wound heal, Marty, let our anger subside and let us adjust to the shock. Many say we got the better deal, receiving the former captain of the New York Rangers, Ryan Callahan, and I have to admit — the guy is good. But there's a sense of abandonment in Tampa Bay. We lost our previous captain, Vincent Lecavalier, and our star forward, Steven Stamkos, was out with a broken tibia (though thank goodness, he came back last week to the captain's post). Now we've lost you.

It's hard in general being a hockey fan in Florida, but it's harder to be one in Tampa Bay when losing your favorite players seems more than routine.

You've given us numerous memorable years, Marty, and we won't forget it. We hope you won't forget us.

Your (once) biggest fan,

Katie Lamont

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