One year and one day ago today, Marty St. Louis stood inside the Lightning locker room, looked around and pondered whether the end of his days in Tampa Bay stared back at him.
For nearly a decade, St. Louis poured his heart into the franchise. He bled for the Lightning. He shed tears of joy and pain with his arms wrapped around teammates. He wrapped his arms around the silver chalice that defines every hockey player's dreams — the Stanley Cup.
One year ago, the franchise was in flux and St. Louis wondered openly if he wanted to be a part of its future. The Lightning had been sold a month earlier for the third time in four years, the general manager and head coach had just been fired and a cloud of uncertainty hovered above the team.
Amid all the turmoil, St. Louis, like so many, wondered what the future held in Tampa Bay.
Flash forward to today. Instead of preparing for his next move, St. Louis is preparing to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins as Tampa Bay returns to the postseason for the first time in four years.
In just one year under the guidance of owner Jeff Vinik and general manager Steve Yzerman, the Lightning pulled off a 180-degree turnaround, returning to NHL prominence after three years in hockey purgatory.
"Last year we were talking about what went wrong and what's going to happen, but right now we are celebrating what went right and what we hope is going to happen next,'' St. Louis said. "The changes they have made, and when they hired Steve Yzerman, I just felt really good about things. … I just figured that I would get a chance to be here again today and getting ready for the playoffs.
"This is what we play for, this time of year. You have to earn that time of year and we have earned it. We are here.''
St. Louis, Lightning know future is now
Tampa Tribune | Apr 13