It feels like Stammergeddon was just yesterday. For the Lightning faithful, the last year was, to put it plainly, a brutal wait for the Stampocalypse that never came. And there was no quarter given by the Leafs fans (or Habs fans for that matter) who had convinced themselves that their hometown boy couldn’t possibly end up anywhere else.
There were some of us who assumed Steven Stamkos was already gone when he hadn’t re-signed by the beginning of last season. There were some among us who said they’d rather he go than have us not be able to afford anyone else. There were some who said he’d already started to decline as a player and simply wasn’t worth the figures being bandied about. There were those who thought he would take a pay cut to stay in Tampa and win a Cup. And of course there were those who would have paid him anything he wanted.
And then there was Steve Yzerman. Tight-lipped barely describes it. There was one rumor of an offer during the entire season. It turned out to be true, but it was the only one. Anything else was something like this, from Stammer himself:
“The lines of communication have been open the whole time, and that’s where it is right now.”
Well we knew already that Yzerman does not deal in leaks. But the lack of facts simply fueled the fire of internet opinion.
But through all the furor, it wasn’t a rumor that Stamkos wanted to get paid. He said it himself:
“I could envision something like [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews signed…”
Lightning fans knew we could offer one more year than anyone else, but we also knew we had a ton of other contracts to get signed. No one anticipated the amount of people who moonlight as salary cap experts, or the many conversations about taxes we all had to endure.
Stamkos himself didn’t make it easy on us, either. When he liked a tweet speculating about his return to Toronto, the frenzy reached new heights.
Google Trends 2015-16 “Stamkos”+ “Contract,” “Leafs,” and “Lightning”
Well, it’s all over now. Our Captain sacrificed to stay, convinced others to do the same, and wants to bring a Cup here, to the city he’s chosen as home. Just like you can’t choose your family, you can’t choose where you’re from.
But you can choose your friends. And you can choose your home town. Stammer did. He chose us.
Who could blame him?