Before the announcement of Team Canada’s Olympic hockey roster, no one would have expected Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis to finish the 2013-14 NHL season with a different team.
But after the veteran winger was left off the Olympic squad, which Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman built, speculation and rumors emerged that the 38-year-old was upset over the snub and had requested a trade.
A few hours before Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, St. Louis was traded to the Blueshirts in a deal that sent Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and two draft picks to Tampa Bay. Shortly before he made his Rangers debut Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, St. Louis released a letter to Lightning fans.
“Today is a bittersweet day for me,” St. Louis wrote, per the Tampa Bay Tribune. “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.”
Unsurprisingly, St. Louis refused to explain the reasoning behind his trade request.
“I would rather not discuss what brought me to that decision, but in the end, this is a decision for my family,” he said. “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.”
St. Louis spent 12 1/2 seasons with the Lightning. His tenure included a Stanley Cup title in 2003-04, two scoring titles, one Hart Trophy and 10 25-goal seasons.
Instead of focusing on why St. Louis departed from the Lightning, Yzerman and team owner Jeff Vinik supported him.
Photos via Twitter/@TBLightning