I'm going to hide this over here, mostly because I'm not up to getting dumped on by Tampa Bay Lightning fans today....
Sports fans are funny. They like to believe that every player on the team they root for are there by conscious choice, and that's usually not the case. Guys get drafted, can be traded without their permission, and they don't see free agency for a while. Even undrafted free agents don't have much decision in the matter - it comes down to who's making the offer, and if anyone's giving them a better choice. It's not until a player is in the latter half of his career that he has any choice in regards to the location he wants to play and live.
But to suggest that a player may not be happy where he's at is heresy for sports fans. Many consider it a complete and utter insult, in fact, which I think is just ridiculous. And that's why I'm not feeling up to posting this on Raw Charge - I've got enough drama going on in my life due to others. I don't need to actively solicit more.
So.... Hockey Canada's GM - and the Lightning's GM - Steve Yzerman has left Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis off of the men's Olympic roster, and it's causing much angst and frustration among not just Lightning fans, but also Canadians. There are all kinds of things that are being written about it, and with good reason. It's the second Olympics in a row that Yzerman has elected to not put St. Louis on the roster.
It was after the first time that Yzerman became GM of Tampa Bay, and St. Louis was going to be a free agent that summer. Yzerman had to do some fast talking to get St. Louis to not test free agency and sign with the team. Partly because of where the Lightning were at in the standings and personnel-wise, but also because St. Louis wasn't very happy with Yzerman due to the Olympics snub in 2010.
And so here we are again - second snub, but with Marty being captain now. And having just won the Art Ross Trophy last season, too. And the Lightning are in first place in the Atlantic Division, as of this morning, and third overall in the Eastern Conference - without having had Steven Stamkos in the lineup for the past two months.
So if your boss's boss overlooked you for the second time for a special project that only comes up once every few years, what would you do?
In all honesty, if I were in St. Louis's position, I'd probably ask for a trade - or find a new job, were this not a hockey situation. Though, it'd come down to what my significant other wanted to do, and what I thought the chances of the team were to win the Stanley Cup (or career advancement). But even still, it'd be hard to not want to leave when it feels like my boss's boss doesn't appreciate me. That's not a happy work environment, and I can completely relate to that, since I've been in similar positions before.
(Makes me think of this saying.... Wrong me once, shame on you. Wrong me twice, shame on me.)
I watched Marty play last night, and he looked like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. And I don't blame him. I'd feel the exact same way in his skates. He may have scored two goals, but he took absolutely no joy in them. They were more out of habit than out of any spitefulness to prove people wrong. He wasn't angry about being left off the Canadian Olympic roster; he was just mentally done with his current situation.
I also watched an interview of Steven Stamkos - a guy who had been named to an Olympic team for the first time - and it took everything he had to not stand there and weep for Marty. He kept looking up at the ceiling so tears wouldn't fall, and the pain in his voice was unmistakable. He was completely heartbroken for his friend and mentor, to the point where he could take no joy in his own opportunity. And that should tell you everything you need to know about how St. Louis took the news.
So, no. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if St. Louis asked for a trade. I sort of doubt that it'll be immediate, and he may wait until the offseason, but I can totally see him wanting to go because of this. He's got one more year on his contract, and just about any team in the NHL would make room for him, if they could. Happily.
And, frankly, who could blame him if he did?
That would be the end of the honeymoon for Yzerman if St. Louis left, though. Fans were not happy when he traded Cory Conacher away for Ben Bishop, and some are even still bitter about that, despite Bishop becoming a big asset for the Lightning. So some fans are already disillusioned.
But this would be the final straw. Marty's loved by just about everyone in the fan base - and is the last active player left in Tampa that won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004. So if St. Louis goes, then that absolute trust in Yzerman's decisions among fans likely goes with him.
Sure, one could argue that it was a committee decision, and not Yzerman's alone. But, as GM, Yzerman had the final say. And if he'd really wanted St. Louis on the Canadian Olympic Team, he'd be on the Canadian Olympic team. He would've found a way to make that happen since he's the guy in charge.
Personally, I would like St. Louis to stay. I've always liked him as a player, and I think he's a good guy. But I would completely understand if he couldn't stomach playing for a team run by a man who didn't think he was good enough for something more. I'm sure Yzerman had his reasons, but we'll probably never know them. And even if Marty does, I'm not sure that'll change his mind about things.
So don't be too surprised if you see Martin St. Louis in a different jersey next season - you'd probably do the exact same thing, if you were in his spot.