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Tampa pushes Stamkos’ love of Lightning amid Leafs homecoming speculation

Jul 24, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

Steven Stamkos has been thrust into the rumor mill lately after he briefly favorited on Twitter an article asking when an Ontario-born superstar will come to Toronto like LeBron James did with Cleveland (obviously, LeBron was also returning to the team that drafted him) and a Tweet asking if Stamkos and fellow Ontario-native John Tavares might eventually join the Maple Leafs in their own Miami Heat-style coup.

Stamkos still has two seasons left on his deal with Tampa Bay before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, so even if there was some merit to the idea that he might want to play for Toronto, nothing will happen in the near future. All the same, the Lightning seemed interested in combating that story this morning.

That quote is part of a larger interview that Stamkos gave to The Canadian Press on Wednesday. In the same interview, the subject of him signing with Toronto once his contract expired came up.

“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.”

  1. martysbetter - Jul 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    Devils fans feel your pain LightningBros 😦

    • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      I’m not worried, the new CBA gives Tampa Bay an advantage over Toronto, see my comment underneath

      • elrock7 - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:57 PM

        Truth is if he wants to play in his home town, nothing Tampa throws at him will change his mind.

      • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:11 PM

        @elrock7 Why would he want to leave a contending team for the Leafs? Playing alongside David Clarkson doesn’t too appealing to me. Looking at the Leafs prospects after Nylander, Pettersen, Gauthier it’s a pretty bare system. To be honest, I really hope Dubas changes draft strategies, there’s nothing I would love more than to see Toronto finish in front of the Habs lol

      • flyboystransport - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Because he would automatically make the leafs a major contender

      • withseidelinn - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        He would be playing aside Kessel and JVR. That seems pretty appealing to me. Clarkson is a 3rd liner. Last time I checked Stamkos wasn’t playing 3rd line minutes.

  2. dayno66 - Jul 24, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    If the Leafs are solid in two years then maybe. Tampa is turning into a really well run franchise with Stevie Y at the helm though. I don’t think Stamkos is gonna leave florida for a cluster**** (which is what the Leafs always seem to be).

  3. lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    This is a fairytail for Leafs fans. This is only a way for Stamkos to get leverage during negotiation. Tampa can only start negotiating July 1st 2015 due to the new CBA, 1) they have 1 year window to negotiate a deal with Stammer 2) they can offer up to 8 years. Toronto can only offer 7 years. 3) He’s been through a rebuild most of his career finally things are looking up for Tampa Bay, why wouldn’t he want to be part of that?

    With Jeff Vinik owning the Tampa Bay Lightning and every single piece of land around the stadium, Tampa Bay has finally unlimited amount of money to spend. (under the cap obviously). NO WAY Vinik let’s the face of the franchise leave, even if it takes a max. contract for 8 years.

    • letsgolightning - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:35 PM

      I would love nothing more than to hear about this extension being signed July 2nd, 2015.

  4. stakex - Jul 24, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    If I was a Tampa fan, that last part would make me cringe just a tiny bit. If it was his unquestioned desire to stay in Tampa, it would be pretty easy to say that…. and he didn’t. That doesn’t mean he will leave, much less for Toronto, once his deal is up… but it would seem to indicate he isn’t so sure about staying yet either. Not much of a story now, but could become a massive one around the trade deadline in 2016.

    • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      Wouldn’t you say the same thing he’s saying to get extra $5-10M over the span of 8 years? People don’t understand that if he says NO I DON’T WANT TO SIGN WITH THE LEAFS. 1) He’ll be a bad guy in his hometown. 2) He’d close doors and he wouldn’t have as much leverage during negotiations.

      • stakex - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:50 PM

        1. How so? No one said he had to trash Toronto or anything, but he could have been more affirmative about his desire to stay with Tampa…. if such desire exist. People in Toronto shouldn’t hold it against the guy if he simply wants to play where he has spent his entire NHL career so far.

        2. He’s Steven Stamkos, and he’ll be a UFA in two years…. he has all the leverage no matter what team he’s dealing with, and its not possible to lose any of it. Period.

      • phtjoey - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:25 PM

        What Stamkos says now will have no bearing on the negotiation process. He’ll have millions and millions of dollars thrown at him from most if not every team when he becomes a UFA. He just needs to produce on the ice to get the extra 5-10m over the span of 8 years.

      • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:49 PM

        Guarantee he never becomes a UFA guys.

      • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        @stakex I doubt he ever becomes UFA. Just like Toews and Kane this year he’ll sign his extension over the summer next year. (with still 1 year left on his current contract). Look for Toews/Kane deal to be starting point, I predict 8 years 90M (11.25M AAV)

      • moarjam - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        I agree with stakex. He’s Steven Stamkos! He doesn’t need to be playing mind games with Jeff Vinik or Steve Yzerman. He already has ALL the leverage!

    • avscup - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      If you remove all doubt, you lose negotiating power. If he states emphatically, he is a Lightening forever, he’s lost the plot!

  5. bcsteele - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    I feel like lightning79 defending every comment says he’s nervous. And I have now stake in the matter bro. Just saying.

    • bcsteele - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      No* stake

    • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Not at all, this Toronto Media circus for ya, just trying to make something out of nothing. If you want to put money on anything, put it on Stamkos re-signing in TB. You can take my word for it: I 100% guarantee that he re-signs in Tampa!!

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        I’ll be the last one to defend the Toronto sports media, but they surprisingly don’t seem to have their fingerprints on this one.

      • lightning79 - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        this crap all started with Stamkos favoriting a tweet on twitter about Lebron LOL, a tweet by Adam Proteau…then everything started with speculations that every media outlet loves to during the offseason to get page hits, and to start hockey debates. I love to speculate too sometimes, but if Tampa could negotiate right now, he’d already be under contract, but the CBA doesn’t allow them to start contract negotiations until July 1st, 2015.

  6. leafsilluminati - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    “We’ll see what happens. It’s a couple years away,”

    • letsgolightning - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:34 PM

      This is the best account I’ve seen on here. Well played.

  7. themagicfanguy - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    He will sign an extension before he hits UFA.

  8. JC De La Torre - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    LOL…Lightning fans had to deal with this star envy for over a decade when Habs fans lusted for Lecavalier. At last check, he still hasn’t donned a Habs sweater.

    Here’s the problem. Tampa is an awesome place to live, they have a dedicated, passionate fan base (top 10 in attendance for the last 3 years), there’s no state income tax, it’s in the U.S., he doesn’t have to deal with the microscope he’d be in at Toronto, He’s got a great team around him, a great GM, a great owner and the Lightning play their superstars.

    There will be a decade of “Could Stamkos return to Toronto?” articles but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was a Leafs fan.

    • JC De La Torre - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      The Lightning PAY their superstars that line should have read….either way, you get the point.

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Don’t worry, no one’s holding their breathe. Name an All Star player from Southern Ontario and there’s been rumors about him coming to the Leafs. The media LOVES to speculate about these things. It would be nice, but it involves Yzerman not doing his job and the Leafs ending the playoff drought and season ending embarrassments. Two extreme long shots have to hit paydirt. Not likely!

  9. Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    I don’t think it will happen, but can’t blame Leaf fans for wanting him on the team. Not sure why so many people get mad that Leaf fans want a top level player. Philly fans got pretty excited when Evander Kane like a tweet about him going there. This is Steve Stamkos! Wanting him on the team doesn’t mean we expect it to happen though. Leaf-haters love to overreact about these things.

    I’ve been a Leaf fan long enough to know these types of rumours don’t usually follow through… Name a all star player from Southern Ontario and Leaf fans have heard rumours about him coming to Toronto. Funny how all hockey fans love having local players on the team, but for whatever reason it’s a hate-crime when Leaf fans do it.

    So many things would have to go right for Toronto and wrong for Tampa for Stamkos to become a Leaf. First of all, he has to NOT sign with Yzerman in Tampa. There’s plenty of time for them to work out a deal. If for whatever reasons they don’t sign him and he tests the market… then there’s still no guarantee Toronto will be an option for him.

    I’ve been a hockey fan long enough to know that top level UFA’s DO NOT sign with rebuilds. If the Leafs keep finding ways to embarrass themselves at the end of each season then they aren’t going to attract anyone. Top tier players avoid disasters and sign with playoff teams and contenders. Leafs would have to make the playoffs and do some damage in the playoffs. That doesn’t seem to likely with embarrassingly epic collapses in the last three seasons. The Leafs have a lot of proving to do to get over the stigma the team has right now. These offseason moves aren’t making that look likely.

    Too many things have to go Toronto’s way. That just doesn’t happen. Nothing ever goes Toronto’s way. They find new way to embarrass themselves and fans. I don’t think Stamkos will bother. Plus, I get the sense the hockey media is going to annoy him to death about this, which will only make it less likely for him to even want to come to Toronto. He’s in Tampa for the next two years, let’s let him do that.

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