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Lightning's Owner: It Was Important for Us to Not Stand in the Way of Marty St. Louis

vinik_lightning.jpg
Tampa Bay Lightning

The reaction has ranged from sorrow to anger among Tampa Bay hockey fans that team captain Marty St. Louis requested to be traded away from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

St. Louis' apologized, but did not explain his insistence on the trade in an open letter.

The Lightning's owner, Jeff Vinik, wrote an open letter of his own. He praised St. Louis' time with the team and stressed that the organization did not want to impede the veteran player's wish to join the New York Rangers.

Here's Vinik's letter to the Tampa Bay community:

As you are probably aware, on Wednesday we traded Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers for Ryan Callahan (the Rangers captain), a 2015 first round draft choice and a conditional 2014 second round draft choice. While we have honored Marty's request to be traded, please note that General Manager Steve Yzerman believes we have gotten more than fair compensation in return for Marty, both from a short and long term perspective. As I have said before, Steve and I have the goal for our Lightning franchise to be a perennial Stanley Cup contender, and this deal helps us move in that direction.

We are pleased to add Ryan Callahan to our team and we hope to sign him for the long-term. While St. Louis has historically posted more points than Callahan, Ryan is a heck of a two-way player, and he was a fan favorite in New York. We look forward to having him on our team. In short, this is a good deal for Marty St. Louis and his family and a good deal for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

On behalf of the entire Lightning organization, I want to convey my sense of gratitude and appreciation to Marty for his 13 years of hard work and dedication to our franchise and our fans. In playing more than 900 games with the Lightning, Marty established himself as perhaps the greatest player in our history and we celebrate him for his accomplishments.

We honor Marty, understanding that later in their careers, many great players need to better dimension those careers and family life. It was important for us not to stand in the way of Marty's desire to play for another team and to help write his remaining chapters.

We are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture this year, and as I said before, with our core of exciting young players surrounding our top center, Steven Stamkos, we are developing a franchise that can perennially compete for the Stanley Cup.

I am 100 percent confident the Tampa Bay Lightning will continue to be an organization that you can be proud of, on and off the ice.

Sincerely,

Jeff Vinik

Chairman and Governor