This afternoon, Steven Stamkos spoke to media on a conference call that lasted about 30 minutes. Media members ranged from local newspapers to ESPN to Toronto media. There were a wide range of question s thrown at the Tampa Bay Lightning's freshly signed Captain, but here are some of the most important takeaways from the conference call.
From the beginning of the process, Stamkos, his agents, and General Manager Steve Yzerman agreed to keep the talks out of the media. Stamkos said he realized that it wasn't fun for the media (or for the fans), but that it was done to benefit both sides of the negotiations. We've long known that Yzerman always wants to keep business dealings quiet, and Stamkos shared that view.
Stamkos also refused to talk about the other participants out of respect for those parties. He was baited several times to talk about it, including by a Toronto reporter asking him if he considered the possibility of being a hometown hero by going to Toronto. He chuckled at that and said, "The thought crossed my mind," but otherwise refused to go into specifics of negotiations.
Stamkos is excited to be in Tampa. He reiterated that this is where he wanted to be and was happy to be back with his teammates. The team has a strong core of players that can compete for a Cup for years to come. He also recognized that the salary cap and the puzzle pieces of contracts would play a part in this core staying together. He mentioned that guys would have to realize that for this group to stay together for a long time, there would need to be sacrifices.
When asked more about that, Stamkos did say that he wasn't going to tell the other guys what they should and shouldn't do in those regards. Stamkos remains a good leader, and again shows respect for his teammates and whatever decisions they make.
Stamkos admitted that this past week had been very stressful for him and that he was relieved for it to be over. He also had a couple sleepless nights. He did also say that if he could go back and change a few things from the past year, he probably would have, or knowing that he would ultimately sign here, that he could go back and just have it done last summer.
He won't admit how much of a distraction it may have been through the season, but you have to think that a stress-free Stamkos is good for Tampa Bay. He was asked about Yzerman's comments about him being in his prime years and what he thought of it, and replied that he's a better player today than when he entered the league. He hoped that he could get back to scoring 40, 50, 60 goals, and that he continues to work every day to get better.
Saying the Right Things
Overall, Stamkos said all the right things. There wasn't anything overly profound or unexpected, but he's the Captain, the Leader, and he's here to stay.
Now, he just needs to bring a Stanley Cup or two or three to this town that he loves...