Martin St. Louis will make his New York Rangers debut Wednesday night, just hours after the captain-for-captain deal that brought Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay. This is what he wanted.
Steve Yzerman made this perfectly clear in the Lightning's official release. "We'd like to thank Marty for everything he has done on and off the ice during his outstanding 13-year career in Tampa Bay," Yzerman said. "He has been one of the greatest players in the organization's history but in the end we honored his request today."
But why did he request it? The official story seems to be that St. Louis remains raw over being left off of Yzerman's Team Canada roster, even though he eventually got to go to Sochi and win a gold medal anyway.
And if there are other reasons, St. Louis isn't saying. In a letter to Lightning fans, he admitted to bittersweet feelings about the departure, but refused to talk about what led him to request it. He also apologized.
Here's the full letter, courtesy the Tampa Bay Tribune:
Today is a bittersweet day for me. I am sad that this chapter of my career is over. I have had 14 wonderful years in Tampa and have cherished being a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I would like to thank Mr. Vinik, Tod Leiweke, Steve Yzerman, Bill Wickett, Jon Cooper and the coaching staff and the entire Lightning organization for everything they have done for me through the years and today.
Mr. Vinik is an amazing owner and man, I am and will remain entirely thankful and appreciative of him and everything he has done for me and my family. I am also so thankful to the unbelievable fans of Tampa Bay.
When I arrived here in 2000, you all supported and believed in me when not many did. You have continued to support me through the years and I am extremely thankful for it! I know many of you are disappointed with me for my decision to want to leave.
“I would rather not discuss what brought me to that decision, but in the end this is a decision for my family. I respect the fact that many of you do not agree with my decision and are angry with it. All I really can say is that I am sorry and I am very appreciative of the support you have shown me through the years.
Last but not least, I want to thank my teammates and the training staff. I have made some friends here who will be my friends for life. I will miss them all.
My wife, my 3 boys and I will always hold Tampa very near and dear to our hearts. This has been our home and where we have built an amazing life. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Tampa for everything you have provided me and my family.
At the risk of sounding like my dad, sorry's not gonna cut it here.
I guess he doesn't really owe anybody an explanation -- private matters are what they are -- but if St. Louis wants the forgiveness of the Tampa fan community, he's going to have to give them more to go on than that.
As it stands, it looks to me like he reacted to being deemed too old for Team Canada by acting too young for Team Canada, and until he says more, that's the perception.
But Marty's letter wasn't the only one fans got today. Owner Jeff Vinik released one of his own, once again pointing out this was all St. Louis' doing. Here's a selection:
On behalf of the entire Lightning organization, I want to convey my sense of gratitude and appreciation to Marty for his 13 years of hard work and dedication to our franchise and our fans. In playing more than 900 games with the Lightning, Marty established himself as perhaps the greatest player in our history and we celebrate him for his accomplishments.
We honor Marty, understanding that later in their careers, many great players need to better dimension those careers and family life. It was important for us not to stand in the way of Marty's desire to play for another team and to help write his remaining chapters.
This is the friendliest bitter divorce I've seen in ages.
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