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Steve Yzerman pays price, trades Martin St. Louis to New York Rangers

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Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning was traded to the New York Rangers

Pouting his way out of Tampa Bay after his Sochi snub has stained Martin St. Louis’s reputation. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Steve Yzerman demonstrated his character and integrity when he decided not to overrule the management group decision to exclude Martin St. Louis on Team Canada’s original Sochi Olympic roster. And it cost him.

The Lightning GM’s relationship with Tampa Bay’s captain turned toxic in the wake of that perceived snub, so much so that even the eventual inclusion of St. Louis as an injury replacement couldn’t soothe the raw feelings.

And so Yzerman was forced on Wednesday to do the unthinkable. Faced with a star who no longer wanted to play for him, he traded the NHL’s fifth-leading scorer to the Rangers for winger Ryan Callahan and a pair of draft picks.

DEADLINE DAY BLOG: Trade rumors and analysis | TRADE TRACKER

It’s easy to argue that Yzerman made the best deal he could under the circumstances. St. Louis wasn’t just in full pout. He only wanted to go to one team and, having a no trade clause in his back pocket, he had the power to ensure that New York was exactly where he went.

So it’s to his credit that Yzerman was able to extract as much as he did from his counterpart, Glen Sather: a 2015 first rounder — a fairly desirable asset given the current perception of next year’s draft class — and a 2014 second rounder that converts to a first if the Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference finals. That’s a very real possibility with St. Louis in place to lead the offense.

Both of those picks have significant value, but that value will only be realized far down the road. Unless Yzerman flips them to bring in players who can contribute immediately, they do nothing to help this season’s team.

The value of Callahan is debatable. His character and willingness to do whatever it takes to win are undeniable, but that’s a wildly different skill set from the player he’s replacing. Plus, he’s a pending free agent with contract demands that the Bolts are unlikely to meet, meaning he’ll skate away for nothing this summer.

And so Tampa Bay is a worse team for having made the deal, and its chances of competing for the Eastern Conference crown — chances that looked promising not so long ago — have taken a huge hit, even with the return of Steven Stamkos slated for later this week.

It’s hard to believe that this deal couldn’t have been postponed until the summer, that the bad feelings couldn’t be put aside long enough to see this promising season through to the end. That it wasn’t speaks to just how badly the relationship between Yzerman and St. Louis had deteriorated. And that speaks to how selfishly St. Louis has behaved in the wake of the Team Canada snub.

What he, or any rational adult, should have understood was that the decision to leave him off of the Olympic roster wasn’t personal. Nor was it exclusively that of Yzerman. True, he had the final say and could have used his power to grant St. Louis a spot. But his responsibility wasn’t to his friends and associates. He was charged with building the best possible Olympic team for Canada and, given how things turned out in Sochi, he obviously knew what he was doing.

Feelings were bound to be hurt in the process, but Yzerman approached his dealings with maturity.

That St. Louis couldn’t do the same says much about who he is. And it will tarnish his reputation forever.

  • Published On Mar 05, 2014
  • 20 comments
    T38
    T38

    Forget the fact that St. Louis was the Captain of GM Yzerman's team.  He was the reigning Art Ross winner, a former league MVP, and has consistently been among the top point leaders for years.  What more could the guy have done to earn a spot on the team other than grow 4" and gain 30 pounds?


    Team Canada won the Gold.  No denying that.  But their inability to score diminished the excitement and the glory.  Yes, they won, and their defensive play was outstanding, but they could have used all the Marty St. Louis they could get, both for his offensive production and his energy.  I saw a lot of exciting hockey during the Olympics.  Not much of it involved Team Canada.  Winning is great, but winning pretty is better.


    Allan, did you personally speak with Marty prior to writing this?  You make should bold statements on the man's character.  Hopefully not made simply based on assumptions.

    skilligan
    skilligan

    I think Yzerman's #1 job was to make the Lightning winners. I can't blame St. Louis for being angry that his GM not showing faith in him. If Steve Yzerman didn't think enough of St. Louis to make sure he was on the Olympic team than clearly he didn't value his captain. 

    JakeStein
    JakeStein

    I didn't watch any of the Olympics.  Nothing, not one event.  What does that make me?

    dougdammit
    dougdammit

    What a shame; have lost much respect for St Louis.  Not being able to conduct himself as a pro.


    Matthew W
    Matthew W

    Great players don't make great coaches or GMs.....

    wickedasitseems
    wickedasitseems

    What's the big deal? Just another spoiled baby wanting his own way!!

    Phits
    Phits

    Callahan will even end up signing with NYR as a FA in the off season

    sean.a.mendonca
    sean.a.mendonca

    Still pretty tough.. How do you have credibility keeping your captain of your NHL team off your Olympic roster? Hey you are a great leader and 5th in points, but we don't need you? No hard feelings though - just business? Steve made a mistake that I am sure he regrets.. 

    trbmb
    trbmb

    Once more, a move by the James Dolan, i.e.. The Favorite Son,  organization that will lead to nothing. See The Knicks and the endlessly failing Sather mismanaged Rangers.   New York fans are realizing the only hope might be to tear down The Garden (so as to rebuild Penn Station) and somehow drive the inept Cablevision Son out of business. Otherwise, endlessly hopeless in NY MSG.

    RobertJacke
    RobertJacke

    Glen trades a 26 yr old for at 38 yr old why do NY GM trade for older players, St Louis maybe in the league 2-3 more years and  Callahan should be in the league at least 10 more yrs........Was this  just because we need to trade someone......

    Spike
    Spike

    Allan,

    You could not have said it more clearly and concisely.  As much as the Tampa community has cherished Marty, his effort, his success, his entire humble and hard-working persona over the years, this is a complete back-stabbing. Worse is that it is being done by a guy with a gold medal around his neck! Tampa is being punished for a perceived snub by a very correct Team Canada decision - this makes no sense and, with Marty's stoic nature, we'll likely never hear his side of the story.  As you state, Marty has tarnished his incredible selfless image. Steve Yzerman is to be commended for doing the best he could on all fronts - for both Team Canad and the Lightning.

    OK
    OK

    Yzerman got the better of the deal.

    He dumped a 36-year-old - talented, to be sure - for a first-round pick and a second-round pick. If Callahan stays at $6M per to play with Stamkos, all the better. If not, Yzerman eschewed age for youth.

    The Rangers brought in another Phil Esposito (see NY and not Beantown) to pacify the back page sycophants that run the club.

    WSiegelDPM
    WSiegelDPM

    This article is completely biased against St. Louis.  If Yzerman showed "character and integrity" by making an unsentimental move not to include the league's fifth leading scorer on his Olympic team, then why is St. Louis "pouting" by asking for a move to a place he knows he will be happy?  At 38 years old you don't play NHL hockey for anything other than a love of the game.  He has the leverage of a no trade clause and an enviable skill set, so why not use it if he's not feeling the love in Tampa Bay?  You can't have it both ways.  Either both men are acting childish, or both men are making the best business decisions for themselves.  

    magicvilas
    magicvilas

    Agreed. Don't question the Captain you complete baby.

    I hope that with Stamkos coming back, the Bolts go far deeper than the Rangers this year.

    Shooter McGavin 19711
    Shooter McGavin 19711

    Steve Yzerman was trying to put together a team to win an Olympic Gold medal. Clearly, St. Louis did not have the size or speed that Yzerman wanted. And the way the team played, Yzerman was vindicated. Marin did not play a key role. PK Subban made the team and played in only one round robin game. And he handled himself with class. Marty St. Louis acted like a spoiled child. Anyone who says Yzerman was wrong to leave St. Louis off the Team Canada team simply does not have a clue...

    dizzz
    dizzz

    @sean.a.mendonca  Sorry no mistake made.  That decision wasn't about Marty, it was about the aspirations of a nation, which is what Martys should have been about; it was also a consensus decision.  Where would it have left Yzerman with the rest of the mgmt. team if he had overruled them.

    EasyGoer
    EasyGoer

    @trbmb  I'm an Islanders fan but still a true New Yorker. If the Isles don't win the Cup then I hope the hated Rangers do. You cannot say this is a bad deal and I wish good luck to the Rangers. People who hate New York are just like cockroaches: you can find them just about anywhere. However, don't let your hatred cloud good judgment. The Rangers did well here.

    OK
    OK

    My mistake. St. Louis's not 36; he's 38.

    Makes the deal even more foolish for the Rangers and the Back Page Sycophants at the Post, Daily News, and Newsday. And even better for Yzerman and Do You Know The Way to Tampa Bay.

    fastpasscheat
    fastpasscheat

    @WSiegelDPM Canada won the gold medal without the talents of St. Louis. HE WAS NOT NEEDED. This is a 5 year old being angry at his parent. You don't blame the parents, you put the child in the corner and tell him to sit down and shut up.Yzerman clearly made the correct decision by creating a team that would win it all. There is no reason he should be blamed.

    djp9
    djp9

    @WSiegelDPM  Actually it would have been easier on Yzerman if he HAD originally picked him. But he didn't, he made a difficult decision How was this part childish? If true that because Yzerman didn't pick him originally that Martin DICTATED his way to NY then it is entirely on Martin. He wants to go where he's happy? This is what free agency and signing a contract are for. Doing it mid season WHEN YOU ARE WINNING is not business, its childish.