Steven Stamkos Re-Signs With Lightning: “We all wanted to stay in Tampa from day one. It was just a matter of time.”

July 20, 2011 – 7:45 am by Steven Cuce

Tampa Bay hockey fans can rest easy now. On Tuesday, good news broke that Steven Stamkos had re-signed with the Lightning for 5-years and roughly $37.5 million.  Although there had been a persistent rumors circulating about Stamkos booking it out of Tampa, he claims in the following interview with WDAE that the framework for this deal had been in place for weeks. The Lightning center felt it was ‘comical’ at first to hear all the rumors while being back home in Toronto because from day one he wanted to stay in Tampa, the only organization he has ever known.

Some may perceive that a 5-year deal for a franchise player may not be long enough of a commitment considering Alexander Ovechkin has a 13-year deal with the Washington Captials. But Stamkos himself couldn’t sing the praises of Steve Yzerman and Jeff Vinik more in this interview. Tampa Bay looks to have a promising future after making a deep playoff run last year to the Eastern Conference Finals before finally falling to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. Stamkos believes there is no other place he would rather be as he, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Vincent Lecavalier look to lead Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup next season.

Steven Stamkos joined WDAE in Tampa with Steve Duemig to discuss the relief of re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, getting a laugh out of the rumors the press were speculating about him going elsewhere, being involved in his contract negotiations, why hee’s more interested in and inspired by being with Tampa Bay than he was receiving maximum compensation with this contract, and feeling added pressure to perform after signing a new lucrative contract.

It’s gotta be a load off your mind to re-sign with the team you really wanted to be with?

“Yeah it’s a very exciting day for my family and I. There is a little bit of relief knowing I am going to be back in Tampa like you said the team I started my career with that I have been able to grow over the past couple of years with. After that run we had last year it only made me want to come back even more. I can’t thank the Lightening organization enough to make this deal come true.”

Did you get a laugh or think any of the rumors of places where you may be going were true in the papers?

“It’s tough. It was a little comical at first. It’s kind of hard. I’m back in Toronto for the summer. It’s really hard to get caught up in that stuff when things didn’t get done before July 1st like everyone thought. There was some thought that creeps into the back of your head, but I think both sides starting with ownership and down to Steve Yzerman, Yzerman and myself, and my agent and my family. We all wanted to stay in Tampa from day one. It was just a matter of time and getting things done. To be honest this thing was done for a couple of weeks. It was just getting the details settled and finally being able to announce it definitely is an exciting time for me.”

Did you ever get a chance to sit down and get involved with the contract negotiations?

“Yeah I think obviously this was the first contract for me where you can get involved. I mean at the entry level it is completely different and set in stone and there is not too many things to be said from both ends, but the negotiating process was something for the first time going at. I was so lucky to have an agent in Don Meehan and Mark Guy and Pat Morrison and the whole crew at Newport Sports. They have been doing this for a long time and I learned a lot about the process. They sit down and give you your advice and there expertise and then also the decision is up to you and your family. It was a family decision and pretty much a no-brainer for me. I loved my three years in Tampa and can’t wait to spend another five years, so it was pretty easy process once things started getting rolling along and like I said fellas it was pretty much a done deal for a couple of weeks just putting on the finishing touches.”

How much of your mindset in these contract negotiations was to help the team and not make the most money you possibly could because there could be another contract in your career?

“Well that’s the thing you have to look at it from yourself and your family standpoint obviously. You want to make sure you are getting fair value for yourself as a player, but at the same time you want to be able to build a championship team and I get a chance to see what that was like going as far as we did last year and realizing the talent that we have and the future that we have with the players we have coming up and being able to work with Mr.[Jeff] Vinik for 5 more years and Steve Yzerman and Guy Boucher and the staff and the players that are going to be here. I have developed that ‘familyness’ that we have down here in Tampa. It’s something at the end of the day that you are right is up to the players to decide what you want to do and I said right when we started negotiating was my main focus was to get a deal done and stay with Tampa. It may have took a little longer than I expected and a lot of people would have expected, but it was definitely something both parties weren’t losing sleep over. It was just a matter of time before getting things done.”

Do you feel any added pressure now to live up to your new contract?

“Well I think there always is pressure. I always put the most amount of pressure on myself, but when a team invests that type of time and money into a player they obviously want you to produce and it is something that I expect of myself. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this Lightening organization having people like Mr.Vinik at the top and Steve Yzerman and our coaching staff, obviously Marty [Marc-Andre Bergeron] and Vinny [Vincent Lecavalier] and the older guys who have all gone through this and succeeded, so if there is ever a doubt in my mind or a question I need answered I have the resources to make myself better as a player and mature as a person, so I think it’s a perfect situation and I can’t wait to get this season going.”

Listen to Steven Stamkos on WDAE in Tampa here

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