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Lightning’s blockbuster deal sends Martin St. Louis to Rangers

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Professional sports are a business, regardless of what sport and for any player at any given time there is a chance that they can be traded. It could done be because there is the opportunity for both teams to improve or in the case of the Tampa Bay Lightning to accommodate the wishes of a player asking to be moved.

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On Wednesday morning, hours before the NHL's 3 p.m. trade deadline Lightning VP/GM Steve Yzerman accommodated the wishes of Martin St. Louis for a trade to the New York Rangers.

In exchange for St. Louis the Bolts received Ryan Callahan plus a first-round pick in 2015 and a conditional second-round pick in 2014 in the blockbuster deal of the day.

"He has been one of the greatest players in the organization's history but in the end we honored his request today," Yzerman said. "We wish him and his family the best of luck as he continues his career in New York."

The hardest thing to ascertain about this trade is the way it all went down. Unfortunately, there are no flies on the wall, so there isn’t that “inside” source giving out the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It’s all speculation from most of the media and of course what the departing parties (Yzerman and St. Louis) want to share.

For what its worth, the former captain, the energizer bunny, the engine that would not or could stop, the driving force and more than anything else, the heart and soul of the Lightning is longer.

The last piece of the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Lightning team has left the Tampa Bay Times Forum to begin a new chapter in his career, under the bright lights of Broadway in the city that never sleeps, the “Big Apple.”

One may ask how could this happen, how could things sour between Yzerman and St. Louis so fast that would make St. Louis want a trade. For all intents and purposes, it’s festered since 2010 when St. Louis was left off the Canada's Olympic team roster for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, also headed by Yzerman.

It all came crumbling down though on the night of January 7, 2014 when in Winnipeg that St. Louis made his decision to leave the Bolts. On this night, St. Louis was informed that he was left off the initial Canadian Olympic roster.

That day in Winnipeg was a tough day for me, I’m an emotional guy but once the dust settled I still felt strongly in what I wanted and what was best for me, the organization and my family,’’ St. Louis said.

Yzerman, who served as Team Canada's general manager, was part of a committee that left St. Louis off the team. St. Louis though would be named as a replacement for teammate Steven Stamkos who was not cleared to participate in the Olympics because of his continued recovery from a broken tibia sustained in November.

Following the initially announcement of being left off Team Canada’s roster, rumors surfaced and escalated in the following weeks that St. Louis had asked to be traded to the Rangers.

On February 26, addressing the media St. Louis was asked just that and he did little to squash the rumors as Lightning beat writer Eric Erlendsonn of the Tampa Tribune tweeted:

"I've had conversations with Steve (Yzerman) about my future with the team and I'll leave it at that."

The Martin St. Louis era in Tampa Bay is over. There will be no future, just the many memories of number 26 skating on the ice, doing his fist-pump following a goal and the music blaring through the Forum speakers playing “Louie, Louie.”

St. Louis leaves holding many Lightning records, some that will remain forever and some that will be passed. In his 14 seasons, St. Louis leaves as the franchise leader in points (953), assists (588), career playoff games (63), career playoff points (68), career playoff goals (33), career playoff assists (35) and his named engraved on the 2004 Stanley Cup.

Additionally, he was named to an NHL All-Star Team on five occasions, played in six All-Star Games, voted the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award and Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player as chosen by the players and league respectively in 2003–04, also winning his first Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer with 94 points.

St. Louis has on three occasions won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player. In 2013, at age 37, he won his second Art Ross Trophy, becoming the oldest player to ever lead the league in scoring. He has also led the NHL in assists in two different seasons (2003–04 and 2012–13).

Reality

After the trade on Wednesday morning, FOX 13's (Tampa) Kevin O'Donnell caught up with St. Louis at the airport before his flight to New York. Before he left, St. Louis took the chance to thank the fans in Tampa, and said that while it is a "tough day," he's also looking forward to a fresh start.

The Martin St. Louis era began Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden when the Rangers hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs. St. Louis would make his debut, playing 20:11 with three shots on goal and a =/- rating of -1 in the 3-2 overtime loss.

Following the game, St. Louis addressed the New York media in the Rangers post game conference and as well you can read Marty’s letter to the Tampa Bay fans

For more info: Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Callahan

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