Don't dwell on the loss of Martin St. Louis, drive to win without him
Despite the long years of success, Marty wanted out and vacated his responsibility as team captain for his own benefit. Don't dwell on the loss, Lightning players and fans. Dwell on the road ahead.
I've always liked Martin St. Louis and I still do, but the fact of the matter is, the only reason he made it to the NHL is because he looked out for Number One. No one helped him to "the show," and he got there out of pure determination and single-mindedness. So, really, it shouldn't be a big surprise that a player who's always taken care of himself and his family first would continue to do that when he felt disrespected.
Marty just did what he's always done his entire hockey career - he did what was best for him.
Everyone involved is at fault to some extent. No one is blameless in this situation. Perhaps some shoulder more blame than others, but that doesn't mean there's one bad guy. So to point fingers at just St. Louis or just general manager Steve Yzerman ignores the fact that everyone's hands are dirty in this situation.
A lot of people will be waxing nostalgic or bitterly angry about the St. Louis trade, and for good reason. He was considered the heart and soul of the team for years, and he left of his own choice. His choice to leave after winning a gold medal was spiteful at best, but I say two can play at this game.
We all genuinely thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your time and effort in Tampa Bay, Marty, but now it's time for the Lightning to win a Cup without you.
Use this as motivation, Lightning players and fans. Do what you were going to try to do without him. Make him regret leaving in the only way that would matter - win the Stanley Cup. This year. Make it yours right now.
Your captain wanted out because of injured pride? Forget him. He's no longer a teammate now, and now you don't even have to pretend anymore that he was. He was named your captain and then he wanted to go? Don't get sad or angry about it, get even.
The Lightning are a good team as they stand, though there may be some tweaking still to be done. And they can go deep into playoffs, too. If that wasn't good enough for St. Louis to stay, then winning the Cup is the only way to make your point.
So, win it all. Take it. Make it yours. And thumb your nose at the guy who was once considered the heart and soul of the team. Never again should a single player have that role, since once they're gone, your heart and soul is gone. Now, you are all the heart and soul of your team - embrace that and believe it.
You guys have a month to straighten things out, so make that a priority. Tweak things together. Close ranks and welcome those who join you now as brothers. It doesn't matter who gets the C next; become that cohesive unit on the ice and in the dressing room. You'll still make mistakes, but learn from them, and let those make you stronger.
And make the Cup yours.