It's been a long road for Martin St. Louis in Tampa Bay. He went from nobody to superstar, to NHL MVP, to the best of the big three with Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards, to the very last of the old guard, to being captain, and finally, after a spectacular heel turn, a villain. And... a New York Ranger.
Nothing has shaken up the Lightning fan base like the MSL saga of the last few weeks, culminating with his trade to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan and some draft picks. People went nuts watching his first presser as a Ranger, and people have been going crazy on each other all week on twitter.
Clearly, this is the most obvious "Answer This" column question ever, and the Lightning bloggers piled on with answers. So here we go:
In light of everything that has happened since January, how have your feelings about Martin St-Louis and his time with the Lightning changed?
Anyone who says their opinion of Marty hasn't changed is lying.
While I don't wish him eternal damnation, I do think that the entire situation was poorly handled on his part. He was the captain of the Lightning and the team was/is in a strong position and mid playoff push. Can anyone think of a worse time to pull this off?
Marty mentioned many times that his family is at the core of the decision and no one is blaming him for that. However, I don't know if the situation was so dire that he and his family could not stay in Tampa for a few more months until the end of the season.
All in all, as with personal relationships, "things change and people grow apart." There was never going to be a situation where Marty continued playing elsewhere that wouldn't leave Lightning fans smarting, but it's hard to imagine an outcome that would damage Marty's reputation in the area more than this one. People will forgive him in time (how could you not?), but they are rightfully angry right now.
Justin Godfrey, The Hopeful Chase
The end of Marty St. Louis' tenure with the the Lightning was always going to be messy. That's what happens with extremely prideful athletes. They think they can still play while the GM and coach think that their are better options. The events of this winter only sped up the timeline.
St. Louis was, and to me still is, the best player to ever put on the Lightning uniform. When he is inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame it will be as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. His number will be retired by the team. When we are old and gray we will tell our grandchildren, "They don't make players like they used to. Let me tell you about this little guy named Marty St. Louis..."
Time heals all wounds and sometime in the near future the details of how he left the organization will be overshadowed by the details of what he did for the organization.
The man literally left his blood, sweat and broken bones on the ice for the team for thirteen seasons. As much as it hurts to have him ask to leave, I can't condemn him for it or ignore all of the joy he has brought me as a fan.
Clark Brooks, Staff writer, Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness, @clarkbrooks.
So much of this seems so removed from what we thought we knew about St. Louis's character that for me, it casts a pall over everything. I've been running it all through my head, over and over again, since Wednesday.
Every time the home crowd sang "Louie, Louie" when he scored a goal, was he thinking, "Get me out of this hell hole"? He's apparently been wanting out of here since at least 2009. Did he score the Game 6 overtime goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning or to stick it to the Calgary Flames? Being "snubbed" is apparently a very big deal to him, and there's no snub like being cut. How much of this was business? How much was personal? When did he really check out on the Lightning? Was it before or after he was named Captain? Remember the elaborate show (read here) that went along with that ("these insufferable rubes, how they sicken me")? Was it before or after Guy Boucher lost his control of the team? I really don't know and I'm not making any suggestion other than to say I'm asking questions that never crossed my mind before. There are just so many questions now, most of which will probably never be answered to anyone's satisfaction.
The only thing we can say is that he wanted out, now, right now, when the team of which he was captain was in the thick of a playoff race. He quit, and that's something that none of us ever thought we'd say about him. How could everything that came before NOT be cast in doubt?
I'm inclined to say that the recent events surrounding Martin St. Louis' departure from Tampa Bay leave a sour taste in my mouth regarding my feelings toward him. From what we know (or think we know), he is still angry and bitter over being left off of a Canadian Olympic team he later joined and won a gold medal with. There was an analogy from Gary Shelton in the Tampa Bay Times Thursday that asked, "if you are miffed that you weren't invited to a party...when your invitation comes later?" I don't think this situation is quite that, but it seems St. Louis is overreacting a little bit to being left off of a team he won a gold medal with. And it seems like he's punishing the wrong people: his teammates and his fans. But that brings me to my main point; St. Louis said the move had to do with the Olympic snub but also to do with what is best for his family. And although you have to take anything he's saying now with a grain of salt, I think it is important to note that it is too soon to pass judgment. We still don't know all the details of what led to St. Louis' untimely departure, and I think it's best to wait and see what else we learn (whether it's from Steve Yzerman, St. Louis, or anonymous sources) before we sentence the man one way or the other in the court of public opinion. As I said in the piece I wrote at the trade deadline, a marriage doesn't end after one fight, and there is more to this than anyone is letting on.
John Fontana, El Generalissmo Supremo de Raw Charge, @Johnny_fonts.
Let me admit right now that I haven’t seen Marty’s letter to fans. I have seen the video where he can’t look local reporters in the eye or look at the camera. I have seen the post-game video in New York where Martin spouted off the typical "glad to be playing in a big market" crap that Tampa Bay sports fans have heard before from former players in other leagues.
While I’d like to do nothing but respect St. Louis for what he has accomplished in his career… I have major issues at this point at the disrespect he’s shown toward the Lightning and the fans by how this all played out.
Anyone who latches on to the Olympics as why St. Louis wanted to leave is missing too many aspects of the guy’s career and his day-to-day life. If, just if, being left off Team Canada initially was the reason why he requested a trade, then I would have expected him to push for an out with Tampa more deliberately much longer ago. The Olympics is a voluntary thing, and while Steve Yzerman is tied to Team Canada and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the two jobs are not and never were intertwined; he was never contractually obligated to name a Lightning player to the team. Only the perception of the "snub" and "disrespect" by Yzerman makes them intertwined.
Like many fans, I always saw St. Louis as a blue-collar work-horse. The heart-and-soul of the club (or my own phrase that I’ve used for years to describe him: "the dynamo that makes the Lightning go.") How this has played out, how St. Louis slinked out, has changed how I view the guy. Do I still respect what he’s accomplished as an undrafted free agent who is vastly undersized? Yes, totally – you don’t ever see those players win the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, or the Stanley Cup. Marty’s done all of that, so props to him. But as an individual, as a person, right now I am very much seeing him in a light that I didn’t expect to see him in: as a prim donna role that many used to try to lump on Vincent Lecavalier and other players in the Lightning ‘s past. Difference between those guys and Marty is, those guys who were poo-poo’d didn’t request trades (multiple times, reportedly.) They didn’t abandon their team. Can you say the same for Martin St. Louis? Can you believe it ever came to this?
David Baldwin, Staff Writer, @dbaldwin1215.
Since the initial shock of the blockbuster trade has passed, I don't think I could hate Marty St. Louis. Sure, it stings a little to learn that he was unhappy here in Tampa Bay the past few years. But in the 14 years he spent with the team, he gave us some great memories on which we can look back.
Take that double overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, or when he actually got to raise the Cup in front of nearly 20,000 fans at the Ice Palace. Those are moments that cannot be taken from the city of Tampa or the Lightning.
I guess my point is, Marty has left a huge impact on the Tampa Bay Lightning and the city of Tampa over the years. I think we should all remember Martin St. Louis as the guy who, no matter what the circumstance, had the drive to succeed and help his team win. Hell, he even scored four goals in two games after the Olympics, despite knowing he wanted to leave Tampa Bay.
The guy gave it his all night in and night out, and that is what is most worth remembering.
How have my feelings changed?
I don't know. There's some bitterness and doubt and resentment where before there was only respect and adulation and pride.
I've been angry and frustrated and also sad. Because Martin St. Louis *was* Lightning hockey for me. I was 16 during the 2004 Cup run. St. Louis inspired -- created, even -- Lightning fandom in me.
On the surface, I want to lash out. I want to wish him ill. I want him to know he's not forgiven. This is not OK. We are not OK.
But I can't. I've watched him play with the Rangers. The world didn't end. When he made a nice play with the puck, I still clenched my fist and yelled "Yes!" under my breath like I have for the last decade and a half.
I'm not going to stop rooting for him. I can't. I don't know how to hate him.
I can't. I've tried.
It was a privilege to watch Marty St. Louis play for as many years as we did. That hasn't changed. He is arguably the best player ever to wear a Lightning sweater. This isn't up for debate. What has changed is my view of him as the ultimate team first guy. The mythos we built around him has been dismantled. I have documented how angry I was on Wednesday.
The trade isn't the issue. All players can be traded... even Gretzky was. How it was done is what leaves a sour taste in my mouth and a knot in my stomach. It might be easier to digest if a little more honesty and openness were used on all sides. As it is, it seems sneaky and underhanded. Maybe one day I won't feel so betrayed. But for now? I'd rather focus on the players on the team who want to be here.
When the news broke on Wednesday that the rumors swirling around the Bolts Nation were indeed true, everyone had different emotions. Some fans were incredibly sad that their favorite player would now be a New York Ranger. Others were filled with anger and rage because they feel they had been betrayed by their captain, Martin St. Louis.
Now that more of the facts have come out, and speculation has turned into something more solid, I can honestly tell you that nothing has changed in my opinion. Do I think that the move was horrible timing? Of course I do. However, when it comes to your children and your family, everything else has to come secondary.
Right now, we are a nation divided. There are people on both sides of the argument, each with valid points; however, there are a few things we know for sure.
No matter what the circumstances of his departure are, you cannot deny that St. Louis has made some great contributions to Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. He was a player that laid it all out on the ice every time that he laced up his skates. Even if you cast all of his personal awards and accolades aside, he and the rest of the 2004 team gave the people of Tampa Bay something that they needed more than anything in this hockey world; hope that a town from sunny Florida could indeed win one of the greatest trophies in all of sports, The Stanley Cup.
When one era comes to an end, another must begin. We have a new team member in Ryan Callahan; we have a new captain in Steven Stamkos. What we need to do now is set our emotions aside, some of us will wish St. Louis well in New York, and then we need to focus on the task at hand; being the Thunder for the boys in blue as they make their push for the post season.
How do YOU feel? Answer in the poll, and as always, we want your comments.