In general, I don’t like to overly criticize or castigate professional hockey players (well, on this blog) mainly since I’ve never played the game myself.
Once a player gets to the NHL level, it’s self-evident they have the talent and drive to be there – even if they are on the team solely to be a punching bag. I respect their dedication to the sport. I understand the discipline and training that goes into the the job. Also, I’m not privy to the whole story on a person or the team. I only know what I can glean from press or social media (both have varying levels of accuracy). There are always other dynamics and factors – human beings still lurk beneath the professional facade.
All that being said, I’m not here to heap slag on to Martin St. Louis for requesting a trade. Besides there are plenty of others ready to refer to him as “Baby St. Louis” (I’m looking at you, Milbury) Bolts fans never see this behavior from our beloved #26. He’s always been a team player and (to use another hoary cliche) the heart and soul of this team. That’s why it’s so painful to see this petulant side to a leader and role model. Is there more to it than the Olympic snub? Let the rampant speculations commence! Clashes with Coach Cooper? Frustrated by their system (or their habit of letting two goal leads evaporate)? Tired of being interviewed by color commentator Bobby “The Chief” Taylor?
Since you, the discerning reader, visit this site for a different take on the NHL, we are pleased to provide this following commentary featuring (what else?) comparisons of Hollywood film divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Both notoriously demanding actresses, they had completely different styles and methods to get what they wanted. Davis stomped, screamed, threw tantrums, bitched out the crew for lighting her from any angle she deemed inappropriate.
Crawford was far more devious. She killed ‘em with kindness. She would bring her famous homemade baked goods to the set and remembered crew member birthdays, even their family member’s birthdays. And when she didn’t like, say, the lighting, she would have a chat with the lighting director and changes would happily be made. They were both tough as nails broads who schemed and clawed their way to the top of their profession (well, Joan did sleep with anyone she needed to which helped) but those reputations have always remained in the collective conscious.
I don’t compare Marty to Bette just because she was shorter (Did You See What I Did There?!? It’s A Short Joke! It’s Flipping Hysterical And Totally Original!) it’s the whole willing to burn bridges attitude that will ultimately tarnish all the good will Marty has built in the Tampa fan base. Because he’s not supposed to be Diva in the negative connotation of the word, he’s supposed to be the Captain. He’s supposed to be the veteran leadership not the elephant in the locker room or worse, the albatross around the team’s neck.
And to paraphrase Ms. Davis in the camp cinematic classic “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane”: “But cha ARR in the captain’s chair, Marty!!! Ya ARR!” But when the captain of a team practically demands a trade (and then invokes the No Trade Clause to force Tampa to send him to a destination with limited trade bait), you pretty much have to dump him rather than poison the atmosphere in the locker room any further.
And the timing is fairly awkward since the Lightning are set to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their Stanley Cup victory and as Marty was MVP of that shindig, it’s gonna be hard to excise him from the highlight reels. Will they fly Marty in for the ceremonies like so many other of those team members? Well, Vinny probably can’t be there either.
At least his buyout was amicable and not so publicly acrimonious as this affair has been. Ultimately the Lightning fan base will forgive Marty, but it will take a long time for these scars to heal. On both sides. And it will be a long while before the number 26 is raised to the rafters in the Forum.