PrintPrint

Lightning sign forward St. Louis to four-year extension

The Canadian Press

7/1/2010 3:11:07 PM

Martin St. Louis wants to be around when the Tampa Bay Lightning are a contender again.

The veteran forward signed a US$22.5-million, four-year extension on Thursday, putting him under contract with the Lightning through the 2014-15 season. The 35-year-old could have been an unrestricted free agent next summer but chose instead to commit to the organization with whom he's spent the majority of his career.

Interestingly, it's a decision he might not have made had Steve Yzerman not been brought on as general manager in May.

"I've seen both sides of the mountain in Tampa -- I've seen the good days and the bad days," St. Louis said on a conference call. "My family loves it in Tampa but I needed something that showed me that we're going to win here now. ...

"I think at the time when they hired Yzerman, I just felt like 'you know what, this is the guy.' This couldn't have been a better hiring."

The Lightning have missed the playoffs the last three seasons while experiencing a tremendous amount of overhaul at all levels of the organization -- everyone from owners to executives to coaches and players.

"It's been a revolving door," said St. Louis.

The pint-sized forward has been one of the constants. Unable to get his career off the ground in Calgary, St. Louis signed with the Lightning in 2000 and developed into a Hart Trophy winner, league scoring champion and Stanley Cup winner.

He is currently coming off one of the best seasons of his career -- winning the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player and finishing with 29 goals and 94 points.

"Today is a great day for the Lightning organization," Yzerman said in a statement. "Marty means so much to this franchise, both on and off the ice. His hard work and dedication are unsurpassed and we are thrilled that he will finish his career here in Tampa Bay."

Among the things that have been discussed since Yzerman took the job was his decision to leave St. Louis off the 2010 Canadian Olympic team. There are no lingering bad feelings.

"Yeah, yeah, we had a talk," said St. Louis. "Everything's good."

One of the reasons St. Louis wanted to sign a long-term extension in Tampa is so that he can be around to watch Steven Stamkos and the team's other young players develop.

He feels like things are heading in the right direction.

"I know that I'm going to have a chance at winning again," said St. Louis. "I'm telling you, we're going to do everything we can to get in the playoffs this year. And we should get in."

For a guy that has endured a tremendous amount of turmoil in recent years, that would feel pretty sweet.

"We've had so many bad articles written about the Lightning the past two, three years -- it's so draining," said St. Louis. "I think that Steve brings calm, he just kind of stops the storm. We're going to finally get some respect.

"I think that the bad weather is behind us."