Martin St. Louis hopes fans in Tampa will “respect his decision”

Martin St. Louis press conference.

Martin St. Louis press conference.

Marty St. Louis played 14 years for the Tampa Bay Lightning and has nothing but fond memories. “It was 13, 14 great years. I grew up here pretty much as a professional,” he said at his press conference yesterday. Still, the way it all went down left Marty, the organization and the fans with no closure.

That will come tonight.

Marty was asked what was the hardest part about leaving and he was quick to respond with how it went down. “I played in St. Louis, the next morning was a day off, got traded – gone,” MSL recounted. “Didn’t get a chance to say goodbye almost,” as he looked skyward, “I’d been here for so long, that was the toughest part.”

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MSL, TB TIMES

MSL, TB TIMES

Tonight, Marty St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning along with their fans can officially say goodbye and move on. Still, what kind of reaction will he get? Tampa reporters peppered him with questions about how disappointed fans were when it became public he wanted to leave. One particular question was centered around the kids in the area and what he would say to them in their #26 jerseys.

“That’s a tough question,” St. Louis answered, followed by a long pause. “I really appreciate their support,” he began, “remember the great 14 years. I understand the disappointment they feel. I just want them to respect my decision.”

A decision that was influenced in part by Olympic snubs. Marty St. Louis was pointedly asked about it and admitted it had an impact on his decision, but he didn’t want to revisit it. The primary factor was being closer to his family, who are now transitioned and very happy.

“We’re 20 games into the season and this feels like our 1st road trip,” MSL said. “Playing in NY, I’m home a lot more.” At this stage of his career, or any athlete’s career – the ability to be closer to family is a right they’ve earned.

msl

MSL smiles

Marty St. Louis left Tampa in good shape. His loss didn’t derail what he feels is a young and improving hockey club. “I think the Lightning franchise is going well,” the once face of the franchise said. He also reminded them that in exchange, Tampa got a hard-nosed, gritty player in Ryan Callahan.

So with the Lightning’s future secured, how does he really feel the reaction will be tonight? “I’m expecting the worst and hoping for the best,” St. Louis said with his trademark smile.

The puck drops at 7:30 tonight – the love from the crowd will start much earlier.

This story first appeared on our flagship site: FulltiltHockeyNetwork.com

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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