St. Louis to replace Stamkos on Team Canada in Sochi

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Martin St. Louis (right) will replace teammate Steven Stamkos on the...

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Martin St. Louis (right) will replace teammate Steven Stamkos on the Canadian men's national hockey team at the Olympics in Sochi. (QMI AGENCY)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:45 PM ET

TAMPA - Call Martin St. Louis a lot of things.

Speedy, quick, talented, skilled. But a replacement?

“I don’t see this as Marty replacing me,” Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos told a group of reporters packed into a room at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday.

“I see this as Marty deserving a spot on this team and going over and hopefully bringing back a gold medal.

“He probably deserved to be on that team since Day 1. He is going to go over there and prove to everyone why he deserves a spot and why he is on the team.”

Hockey Canada put a quick end to speculation on Thursday morning, announcing that St. Louis will replace Stamkos on Canada’s roster for the men’s hockey tournament at the Olympics in Sochi.

Some had argued for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux to be put on the roster after Stamkos was told by Lightning team doctors on Wednesday that his broken right leg had not healed to the point that Stamkos was game-ready. Giroux would have been a fine choice, but there’s no way Canada executive director and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman could have gone wrong with St. Louis.

Now, the 38-year-old St. Louis, who played for Canada in the 2006 Winter Olympics but not in 2010, will have an opportunity many thought he should have been granted on Jan. 7, when Canada’s roster was announced.

“I have worked hard for this,” St. Louis said. “How I came into this league (undrafted) was kind of a backdoor entrance, and this is kind of the same way.

“I’ll go there and bring what I can bring, do the things I have been doing. However you get there, people don’t really care. I’m just happy to be getting the opportunity.”

St. Louis led the NHL in scoring last season, taking the Art Ross Trophy after recording 60 points (17 goals and 43 assists) in 48 games. He was on fire following the reveal of Canada’s roster a month ago, going on a 10-game points streak. In 56 games before the Lightning played host to the Maple Leafs on Thursday night, St. Louis had 25 goals and 29 assists.

“I was not planning hypotheticals,” St. Louis said, a reference to whether he thought he might get a shot if another player was injured.

“It was tough to be left off it and I was trying to move past it.

“As upset as you can be (immediately after the original roster announcement), it is hard to turn down this opportunity. You have to realize if you get a kick at the can, you have to put emotion aside.

“Was I motivated? I don’t think it is motivation. I have been motivated the past 10 years. If you are not motivated, you are not even considered for these things. You have to believe in yourself.”

There’s little doubt his speed should be a benefit for Canada on the bigger ice in Sochi, and if there’s an advantage in having St. Louis on the team instead of Stamkos, it’s that St. Louis won’t have to catch up.

Even if Stamkos had been cleared to play, a couple of NHL games might not have been enough to get him into the proper rhythm for the Olympics.

Now, of course, Stamkos won’t know how he would have performed. This despite an intense regimen over the past several weeks aimed at getting him back on the ice and into games after he suffered the injury on Nov. 11 in a game against the Boston Bruins. Stamkos will spend the Olympic break training and will have another CT scan in two to three weeks.

“You put in the hard work, and all I wanted to be able to do was look myself in the mirror and I say I did everything I could to give myself a chance,” Stamkos said. “I don’t think you can really put into words the feelings I have gone through in the past 24 hours.

“But I can sit here and say we did everything possible to give me a chance. The fact we are here talking about this, being so close is not quite a consolation, but at least I can look myself in the mirror.”

ST. LOUIS HAS JOKES

Martin St. Louis had a good line when he walked to the podium at a news conference at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday.

“It feels like I’m retiring,” the 38-year-old St. Louis said, breaking up the room.

No, not quite. With Steven Stamkos ruled out of game action as he continues to recover from a broken leg, there are other more important plans for St. Louis. Namely, helping Canada win another gold medal in men’s hockey at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“My quickness, my speed, that is what I am going to rely on,” St. Louis said. “It is a lot different (than the Stanley Cup playoffs). It’s a short tournament. Sometimes it’s not the best team that wins, it’s the team that plays the best that day.”

Will Stamkos watch the Olympics and try to withstand the roller-coaster of emotions that will bubble after he was so close to playing in the tournament?

“I am sure I will find myself peeking here and there,” Stamkos said. “If the game is on and I’m free, I will probably be watching. But I am not going to miss workouts.

“You want to be able to represent your country on the biggest stage in the game. It’s unfortunate, but


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