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I don’t question your loyalty, Martin St. Louis, I question how this all played out

You’ve had your heart broken and you need time and distance, you need to heal. You have to move on, you know it, and move forward… But there are great things and little things that you miss so much. And yet there are crimes that have come to light – lies, mistruths, unspoken or unexplained things – that badger you and make you think everything might have been a lie. What was real? And all that you get back is silence, as your partner has moved forward, dating someone else outright. They’re involved in a way you thought was tender and special and would only exist between you two.

Hi, Marty. We’ve never personally met but I think we ought to have a little chat. You don’t want to deal with this anymore – I understand. I do that as the hurting partner. I want it to go away. I don’t want to look at you like the villain. I don’t want to look at you like an opportunist or a malcontent. I don’t. That’s not the vision I want at all.

How this thing played out, all three-plus months of it, sort of led it there. We reveled in your defiant glory after you went crazy offensively after you were snubbed for the Olympics (I’ll get to that in a minute) and were in initial disbelief when rumors of your exit request came to pass.

Let me quote your own statement here from Tom Jones piece Tuesday night, his exclusive with you:

“My time in Tampa, I gave everything I had,” St. Louis said. “Everything! Who was more loyal? Look at my career there.”

And the answer is no one, Marty. No one. No one was more loyal, or dedicated, or beloved than you; no one in the 21 year history of the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Club. And that’s why we called bullshit when rumors started to swirl you wanted out. That’s why we wouldn’t give credit to Larry Brooks and Boomer Esaison. We couldn’t because we thought we knew you better than this, or know the situation better.

I was sitting here in March trying to make heads or tails of it all, writing a long winded piece inspired by the fact the local media respected you so much they gave you absolute control not to say a word.

And that was your first error in all this, Marty. Your mistake, that’s on you; 14 years and you had to keep quiet and cryptic while the fans in their loyalty, doubted the rumors to no end. Hell, I got blasted here by speculating you might have wanted out because of the locker room. The whole idea Martin St. Louis wanted out, for some, was impossible to fathom.

I wanted to outright forgive you when you were struggling to score a goal with the Rangers in March and April. As a writer, I started trying to type up a piece saying just that – I forgive you and just light the lamp already as you’re supposed to as we’ve known you for so long. That attempt was ended with ease with one off-hand comment from you or another in New York where threw out backhanded insults. Forgiveness, after that, just wasn’t going to be easy.

Normally I’m credited with being big hearted and forgiving, and I couldn’t do it here. It was all too raw and all too painful. All too vague, all too unexplained, and with an air of disrespect toward those who adored you – because you couldn’t say why to us, you couldn’t explain why and make peace with us so we could cheer for you openly elsewhere.

This spring I also got my heart broken in my personal life, after being emotionally invested and dedicated. It turned out not to be mutual, it turned out that I didn’t earn the respect to be told directly that I wasn’t and wouldn’t be the guy. And all that’s left is a wall of silence unless I’m willing to be further hurt and get reminded that she doesn’t care, and be reminded of all the unanswered questions and all the good and the bad. The hurt would fester and stay alive by way of it.

People tell me to just move on, and those people know it’s a lot easier said than done. Your buddy in the local press here, Tom Jones, mandating us to move forward immediately is a joke.

I don’t question the loyalty you showed to the club, Marty, especially after I re-read an article in the Tampa Bay (nee St. Petersburg) Times over the weekend that was written in 2001 about you. It was reading that article the first time, remembering watching you; it’s how I want to remember you as a fan. The enthusiasm, the defiant but jovial attitude, and the fact no one could stop you even though the powers that be, the string pullers, kept saying you were too small for the game.

Which brings me to Steve Yzerman and the Olympics and the one fact that I don’t expect you to accept – because it’s too late to do that anyway: Steve Yzerman, as Lightning GM, was not mandated to put you or a member of the Lightning on the Canadian Olympic team. It’s not in his contract with the club Lightning or a stipulation in his role as an executive with Team Canada. And by feeling snubbed, by wanting to distance yourself from Yzerman and the disrespect you felt, you shut out and pushed away the fans.

We thought we meant more to you, Marty. You certainly meant more to us. Perhaps it hurt too much to be up front and say adieu, but the silence made it worse. It always does.

It was reading Tom Jones piece this evening that lit something off in me, something I wish I had seen in my own situation – remorse on the ending in Tampa, pain of being reminded of the end.

I don’t question your loyalty up until you requested the trade this season, mid season. Even wanting out in 2009 (as Brian Lawton claimed) is completely understandable in the context of where the Lightning were and where they were going. Leaving the Lightning I also could understand. It’s just not when you asked for out that sullies everything you’ve done for this franchise. You committed the sin of walking out midseason when you were expected to lead as the team – your team – headed toward the playoffs. It became personal escape that defied who we knew you to be.

While I struggle to write this, I find I can do it because you opened a dialog (even while saying you don’t want to talk about it anymore). It takes two in a relationship and both people have to participate. For what it’s worth, the interview you didn’t want to give may help others find a degree of closure and move forward. To others it won’t ever erase the pain and the hurt.

I don’t question your loyalty Marty. I question your tact and how you handled this from start to finish, but I’ll never question your dedication the past 14 years with the Lightning. That I thank you for, even if I’m still aggrieved at how this played out.

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