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Double Disrespect Hints Stamkos’ Time in Tampa Bay Ending

The Tampa Bay Lightning are taking a hard stance with Steven Stamkos but it’s not clear why based on the past and his feelings about staying.

Steven Stamkos had a measured response to questions about a contract extension in Tampa. When he told the media he was disappointed in a lack of communication regarding another deal, it was clear he was sending a message. Elliotte Friedman said it was unlike Stamkos to complain, and certainly not the norm to do it publicly. That’s how frustrated he is with what’s going down.

Friedman also points out this is the second time Stamkos has been left hanging and it could be the double disrespect that ultimately leads to his exit from Tampa Bay.

The veteran forward is soon entering his final season, an eight-year, $8.5 million AAV contract. Stamkos is a UFA next summer when it expires, and the organization is saying that they have no intention of offering him another deal until GM Julien BriseBois can get a better read on the year and what the Lightning needs to do as an organization to build a winner. They don’t want to discuss a new contract with their captain until the end of the season and Stamkos isn’t happy about it.

“To be honest, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of talk in that regard,” Stamkos said last week. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started. There haven’t been any conversations.” BriseBois responded, “…it’s not just about Steven playing out his career in Tampa. It’s about Steven staying in Tampa and the Lightning remaining a legitimate Stanley Cup contender year in and year out for the remainder of his tenure as a player on the club.

It Makes Sense That Stamkos Would Be Upset

Part of the reason he’s so bothered is because it appears Tampa doesn’t see him as part of what ensures they win. That’s a bit of a slap in the face, especially when you consider his two previous seasons and how productive he’s been. In his mind, the Lightning are a better team with him on it and how can the organization not see that?

So too, as Friedman points out, this is now the second time the Lightning have done this to him. Everyone who is locked in long-term with the organization was taken care of at least one year out from their current deals expiring. It became standard protocol for Tampa not to let players like Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy get to the end of their deals without a new one in place. Yet, for some reason, Stamkos doesn’t get the same level of respect. This will now be two times that he’s been left unsigned going into a contract year.

Tampa Is Missing An Opportunity Here

What makes this all the more baffling is the fact Tampa doesn’t want to do this before the cap goes up. Yes, Stamkos is 33, but if he has another big year, there will be teams that come to him with strong offers as the salary cap jumps $3-$4 million. No doubt, Stamkos would be happy to sign a four or five-year deal at a reasonable rate to stay with the only team he’s ever played for in the NHL.

That BriseBois doesn’t want to jump at making sure they get the best value deal they can suggest he either doesn’t care if Stamkos leaves (something Friedman suggested) or he’s calling the player’s bluff and expecting Stamkos ultimately doesn’t aim to look at other options.

The Lightning may find out the hard way that Stamkos has a number of other options. He’s a producer, a great leader, a Stanley Cup winner, and if he leaves Tampa, a motivated veteran with something to prove. This is not a player that wants to leave, but if you push him out the door, he’ll come back to haunt you.

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