Steve Stamkos has Seen Stamkos. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft has visited the Tampa Bay Lightning's promotional Web site SeenStamkos.com, which pimps the Sarnia Sting center with testimonials and YouTube footage of his highlights.
"That drew a lot of attention. I was checking out the Web site a lot," said Stamkos.
So did other players and fans, and some of them wondered if a Web site that lionized a player that had yet to record a single point in the NHL -- for the purpose of selling season tickets -- would place unnecessary extra pressure on Stamkos.
Lightning GM Jay Feaster isn't fond of those people. Not one bit.
"I think that some people over-think what the Web site is. The Web site is just the fact that we don't have the luxury of playing in a hockey-mad market. We're still behind football down south. If he were a Buccaneer player, he could have played at Podunk State and he could have been Div. 5 and everyone would know him. You wouldn't have to do an awareness campaign. This was never about ‘let's heap the burden of the franchise on the next Michael Jordan of hockey, or the next surefire Hall of Famer.' All this was about was an awareness campaign," he said.
"It was a fun thing. Steven himself had fun with it. I guess there are some people now in the blogs and blogsphere who have just really over-thought this thing in terms of pressure. There was never any pressure at all.
"Can you tell I bristle at that?"
Uh, yeah. Sort of.
In meeting him, what I liked about Stamkos was his confidence. It's not cocky, not swagger. It's a complete confidence in his own self-identity. Like when some asked about the frequent contrast between Stamkos and Steve Yzerman. "That's a pretty tough comparison for a kid that hasn't played a game in the National Hockey League yet," Stamkos said.
Humble? Sure, but he said it without any underlying indication that he wouldn't become another Stevie Y. That's his gift.
For an 18-year-old kid to know exactly who he is at this point in his career is stunning. Hopefully no one robs him of that.
Helping him with that identity is Feaster, who said that comparisons to Joe Sakic and Yzerman are flattering but, ultimately, besides the point.
"We're not asking him to save the franchise," he said, adding. "That's not what we're asking him to be. What we'd rather be pleased with is for him to come in and be the best Steven Stamkos he can be."