There are plenty of reasons to suggest moving on from the professional team you've played over 90 percent of your career for may be for the best. Stuff happens. Relationships fall apart all the time.
But feeling like the victim of an impartial decision-maker you thought you had a close relationship with is not one of them.
Martin St. Louis, the 38-year old Tampa Bay winger, has requested a trade from the Lightning and with a full no-trade clause, the veteran has full control over where he may end up. St. Louis has made no mistake about the short list of teams he'd accept a trade to. In fact, it's one team long: the New York Rangers.
By now you know that the crux of the issue seems to St. Louis' exclusion from the original Team Canada roster by his hometown general manager Steve Yzerman. After the announcement was made on January 7, St. Louis went on a thunderous offensive tear, scoring 15 points in his next 12 games, including a four-goal night at home against San Jose on January 18.
Many attributed his uptick in production to unadulterated outrage of being left off the team, a way of proving Yzerman's injustices before his very eyes, Three weeks later, on February 6, it was no surprise that St. Louis was ultimately chosen to replace injured teammate Steven Stamkos on Canada's roster. He went on to win a gold medal in Sochi, and all was forgotten, right?
Well, not quite.
St. Louis took it personally, despite Yzerman going to great lengths to explain the pains
of narrowing the world's greatest collection of hockey talent to 25 players. He even expressed concern for his relationship with St. Louis, and regretted that it was left potentially as collateral damage:
“I’m hopeful we can get through this and continue,” Yzerman said moments after the selections were announced. “[St. Louis] is a guy who I want to finish his career [in Tampa Bay] and I’m hopeful that somehow we can be fortunate enough to win a Stanley Cup. There’s not much I can say. I can’t apologize. We’ve got to make these decisions."
Remember, this is a team that also did not include the likes of Claude Giroux, Logan Couture, Taylor Hall, James Neal and Joe Thornton. But how dare his pal and general manager leave St. Louis out in the cold? The Lightning veteran wrongly assumed he'd earn a spot and when he didn't, he was disgusted.
So disgusted, in fact, that he is evidently now willing to trade in the chance to play out the remaining years of his career alongside Steven Stamkos for whoever the Rangers pretend is a number-one center after they buy out Brad Richards this summer. If he has his way, St. Louis will be going from a team in the thick of a divisional race to a team that is hanging on to a playoff spot by a thread, and just sustained an injury
to their leading scorer.
As curious as that all sounds, it's all the more pretentious that he narrow his list of acceptable trade partners to one team. It doesn't take a genius to know that New York is completely devoid
of any of the high-end talent it would take to acquire a player like St. Louis.
What they can offer is their fearless leader, Ryan Callahan, who is one hell of a shot-blocker, let me tell you. Yzerman has already expressed very little interest in Callahan, despite what Boomer Esiason may cryptically try to tell you. However let us not forget that for all the praise Callahan gets as an excellent defensive forward, it was his blown assignment
that led to the only goal of a 1-0 victory for St. Louis and the Canadians over Team USA a week ago. Did I mention Callahan's impending free agency and still hysterically inappropriate asking price
? Because there's that too.
With the Rangers having nothing of real value to offer in return, this stinks of a desperate attempt by St. Louis to get Yzerman back for such a grave injustice. Yzerman returns now from one pressure-cooker only to deal with another, being painted into a corner by his eldest star and weighing the affect it will have on his club the rest of the season.
St. Louis got his gold medal, despite averaging just a shade over seven minutes of ice time per game in Sochi. He was even scratched once. In fact, finding a good photo for this column was a struggle because he saw the ice so infrequently. That's how little he played for Team Canada.
An argument could be made that he was a part of the most dominant hockey team of this generation. But instead of appreciating that and celebrating the triumph with his general manager, he is choosing rather to sulk and risk committing career suicide in New York, all while acting that striking a fair deal with the Rangers is a logical thing that could ever actually happen.
Yzerman's a smart guy. He won't let St. Louis walk without getting value for a player of his caliber. After all the dust settles from this episode in self-pity, there's even a chance he'll emerge as the biggest loser of anyone.
Suit yourself, Marty. At least you have that gold medal, right?