Steven Stamkos denies desire to leave Lightning, rift with Cooper
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos indicated he wants to stay with the Tampa Bay Lightning and win a championship with the organization.
Stamkos’ future with Tampa has currently been in question after he liked a tweet about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ pursuit of him. His Lightning also recently played the Maple Leafs in Toronto, which meant he was asked several questions about his pending status as an unrestricted free agent.
The Tampa Bay Times spoke with Stamkos on Saturday about the rumors swirling about him.
"Like I've always said, I envision myself winning a championship here and want to do that," Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times Saturday. "Obviously we got close last year, and I'm the captain of this team and I want to be that leader."
Three days ago, TSN’s Bob McKenzie wrote that he believed the 25-year-old Stamkos was probably going to leave the Lightning.
The Tampa captain and former 60-goal scorer responded to this as well.
"Not even close. That's why people say, 'I've got a feeling. I think, speculate, there's so much information out there that's probably false. Like the ones about my parents moving to Tampa (which Stamkos said is not true). That just comes with the territory."
Stamkos also shot down rumors that he and Tampa coach Jon Cooper don’t get along.
"That's false too," Stamkos said. "That's the thing. There's been so many different articles written about Coop and I. How do they know what's going on in the room? A lot of it is speculation, a lot of it is a story that needs something to make it seem legit, there needs to be a reason (he's still unsigned). Why no one has had any concrete stuff is because there hasn't been anything to talk about.”
Early in December, Stamkos spoke with Puck Daddy and said his contract situation was not a distraction. But this was before he went to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs, a team that has rumored interest in Stamkos should he hit the open market.
The trading deadline is Feb. 29, and Stamkos didn't say if he would waive his no-movement clause if a contract isn't worked out by then.
Stamkos has 12 goals and 23 points this season in 33 games. This puts him on pace for his worst full-season output since his rookie year. The Lightning are currently 16-14-3, two points outside the Eastern Conference's Wild Card race.
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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper