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Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016

Jul 23, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

James Reimer, Mark Fraser, Steven Stamkos AP

About two weeks ago, Steven Stamkos caused a stir by (briefly) “favoriting” stories pondering a Lebron James-inspired* homecoming to the Toronto Maple Leafs once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016. He removed such favorites from Twitter, yet it caused some hysterics among Maple Leafs fanatics.

(Hey, it’s the summer, which you may notice is a tough time for hockey-crazed people.)

Stamkos broke his silence on that subject on Wednesday, essentially telling everyone to take it easy in an interview with the Canadian Press.

“We’ll see what happens. It’s a couple years away,” Stamkos said. “Right now I’m focused on what I have to do to win in Tampa, and I think we’ve really established ourselves as a team that can compete in upcoming years.

“For me, that’s the important thing is getting a chance to win. It looks like we’re going to have that chance for a couple years.”

Well, that’s not exactly an emphatic “no,” but it’s not exactly an invitation to play this song, either.

While more than a few Tampa Bay Lightning fans might be hyperventilating at the idea of their team on the rise losing another captain, the message really might be that the Bolts need to do everything in their power to make sure Stamkos, 24, views his squad as legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

In the meantime, Stamkos said he tries “not to focus about that stuff” and appreciates that Tampa Bay isn’t the hockey “mecca” that Toronto is. Of course, he also said he has fun every time he goes back to Toronto …

* – To be fair, the Lebron – Stamkos parallel has some serious holes in it, especially since the NBA star actually was drafted by his hometown team before leaving for Florida in free agency. Still, that last part makes it a fun comparison in slower hockey times. (Replace fun with “unnerving” if you cheer for the Lighting.)

  1. rmccleary97 - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    When you see stories like this, you know we’ve hit the rock bottom days of the offseason. The start of the regular season cannot get here soon enough.

    • mb30forlife - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      YOU SAID IT! I only check back to see whats going on with Marty. This site is usually pretty good with “real” updates.

      • gobuxfla - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:50 PM

        Amen. Stammer is not heading north, our cap space will be cleared by the end of the 2015 season and he’ll own half of Hillsborough County.

        And FWIW, Leafs fans, we have 1 more Stanley Cup than you do since this century began.

        Just sayin’….

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:59 AM

        lols at idiot leafs fans (as opposed to the non-idiot one) who actually started speculating that he would want to come to Toronto… no one who wants to win anything goes to the Leafs by choice…

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    I’d love to see it, but for now getting him into a Leafs jersey is way easier if you have an Xbox.

    Now cue the Toronto and Leafs bashing in 3…2….

    • mykem07 - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      No bashing… we will have to wait till the time comes.

  3. withseidelinn - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    He clearly has somewhat of a desire to play for his hometown. I think any player does regardless of where they’re from. It just depends on how big that desire is. If Tampa is a legitimate powerhouse in the East, why would he necessarily pack up and leave all that? He’s loved by the fans in Tampa and is an absolute superstar there (not to mention anywhere else). I think he views the opportunity to play in Toronto as somewhat intriguing, but there’s no way to speculate on whether he will ever leave until it’s a lot closer to the end of his contract. Until then, everything is just rumours until he gives a concrete answer to where he wants to play. However – the fact he hasn’t done that regarding Tampa is what will continue to stir this rumour.

    • gobuxfla - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      He’ll win here now that he has a stronger supporting cast. Besides, Toronto can have him.

      When he turns 39 or 40.

  4. alicesrightfootesq - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    “For me, that’s the important thing is getting a chance to win.” So, no on the Toronto homecoming?

  5. westof1club - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Oh, and Lebron has 2 championship rings, Stamkos 0.

    • mb30forlife - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Yeah… sorry. Hockey is a real sport where it takes heart, dedication, Skill and a real team to win all season long and through the playoffs. If Stamkos just flopped around looking for some free throws him and his team would of looked like PK Subban and the Montreal Canadians

      • westof1club - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:21 PM

        No amount of whining changes my point. Not sure what your’s was. Basketball is a team sport, LeBron has 2 rings as Miami’s best player. Stamkos?
        Oh yeah, Subban’s TEAM beat Stamkos’ team 4-0. Any more whining?

      • stepanup - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        I’m whining that you think there’s an apostrophe in yours. Then again, the culture of basketball never ceases to amaze me.

        Basketball may be a “team” sport as the Spurs proved this year in their systematic dismantling of Miami, but a team can get to the finals with three stars, two role players, and a couple decently effective bench guys. Basically a team of 7.

        Seven good players gets you nowhere in the NHL. Essentially you made your point that in basketball the best player can win the championship single-handedly for their team. That’s not possible in hockey, and I don’t think anyone here would agree that you can. Apples and Oranges.

      • royalvoyager - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:35 PM

        Both are tough sports that require dedication to be one of the best, no reason to bash.

    • lilgurgi - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Different sport. It’s like apples and oranges. In basketball you can win with only 2-3 dominant players as there are only ever 8 or so guys that actually see gametime whereas in hockey you have 18 guys that influence a game. Little harder to win in hockey otherwise the Pens would have more cups since they have 2 of the dominant players in the league…and that hurts saying that as I’m a Flyers fan.

      • westof1club - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:54 PM

        Spurs didn’t have any truly dominant players. They won as a team. NYR had Lundqvist pretty much as their only dominant player to get to the Finals, beating more talented teams along the way. It seems many different combinations of valued players can instill a run, not just any one formula in any sport. My point was James will return home as a 2 time champion, multiple league MVP awards, Stamkos would be returning home with some individual awards and the worship of all of Canada, but no championship rings.

      • dueman - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:36 PM

        westof1club – So what. What does that have to do with anything….?

      • stepanup - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        Amazing the Rangers still don’t get any respect. They won three straight against the Pens (really outplaying the Pens in 5+ of those 7 games), and beat up the Habs, which you stated above were much better than the Lightning.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:38 PM

      Basketball is a sport that’s results are directly tied to the officials working the game.

    • fightingwild - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      No reason to bash? Have you watched a basketball game? The game is horrible, boring & stilted. The last 30 seconds take 10 minutes to play, each little bump & they look like they have been shot, it is soccer but you can use your hands. Hockey is the one true sport in my humble opinion.

  6. mb30forlife - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Theres one Difference… Toronto has no cap to build around him.

    • alliceishome - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      They have 27 million in cap space for the first year after his current deal, which is when this is contemplating, at the current cap level.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 26, 2014 at 1:29 AM

        That’s true, but you’re not telling the entire story, they have $27 million in cap space with ONLY 8 players under contract, that means they have 15 roster spots to fill, so while technically they do have the cap space, logistically they do not. Even if the cap goes up $10 million over the next 2 years and Stamkos takes a hometown discount of only $10 million per season that leaves you will a horribly top heavy roster, and you better have hit on multiple draft classes in a row because you’re going to need about 10 players on entry level contracts.

  7. lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    I don’t know why but as I was reading the article, in my head I broke into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Comin’ Home “…I wanna come home; It’s been so long since I’ve been away; And please, don’t blame me ’cause I’ve tried; I’ll be coming home soon to your love to stay…”

    In seriousness though, at least in the immediate future, I think the Maple Leafs have a more realistic chance of getting John Tavares to come home before Steven Stamkos

  8. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    It would be a cool story but if Stamkos really wants to win a Cup there’s not a better spot for him than Tampa. Toronto has some building blocks but that Lightning roster is stacked with blue chip youngsters, along with a nice mix of veterans. Hedman looks like he can be that #1 guy on the blueline and if Ben Bishop can stay healthy and replicate his success Tampa could be a serious threat to come out of the East. The Leafs are simply a borderline playoff team. And the Lightning will probably only be better by the time Stamkos is facing free agency.

    Thank god football’s right around the corner bc I can’t take these boring July sports days.

  9. wutangwild - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    How dare they mention the L word on a hockey website! I think we have officially reached the deepest depths of the offseason…

  10. canada2014gold - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    Lol too funny, sounds like playing for the leafs is not out of the question.

  11. beergold - Jul 24, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    Who would you rather have Kessel or Stamkos?

    Up for Kessel down for Stamkos!

  12. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    We heard these rumors for practically a full decade with Lecavalier supposedly being a trade target for Montreal or Toronto, and it never happened. This stuff happens every offseason and it always ends the same, but people love rumors so they continue and the natural course of rumors is “player A from small market team B wants to leave and play for big market team C!”. It’s just Canada’s version of the New York Knicks, who are named dropped with literally every major free agent ever but at the end of the day only a guy who cares more about marketing himself than titles(Carmelo) ever actually went there.

    The only way this rumor gains any basis in reality is if Toronto proves themselves to be a clearly superior threat to win the Cup than Tampa, and as of now that’s definitely not the case.

  13. paulerhythm - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    Stamkos is staying as a Lightning and he’ll get his cup in Tampa.

  14. Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 27, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    I love how the Leaf haters are taking this news. They love to twist everything into some lame attack to blame the fanbase.

    It was a tweet sent out by someone in the media (not a Leaf fan) asking if the NHL will ever have a Lebron situation could ever happen (to any team, not just Toronto). Stamkos himself ‘likes’ the tweet… yet somehow this hole thing is “typical toronto fans thinking they can get everyone”.

    The anti-Leaf double standards crack me up too. It’s funny that Philly fans are allowed to get excited about Evander Kane liking a tweet about him going there, but if the Leafs get excited about an even better player doing the same thing about coming to Toronto it’s a hate crime against the sporting world.

    If anyone remembers about 10 years ago, Montreal fans were doing to exact same thing when Vinny Lecavalier (when he was still good) hinted that he wanted to play at home in Montreal… but again… it’s fine for fans to do that, as long as it’s not Toronto fans.

    How DARE we cheer for our team to get better. Someone stop us! WE ARE MONSTERS!

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