Steven Stamkos has been all the talk lately, with many speculating he could pull a Lebron James like move by returning home to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs once his current Tampa Bay Lightning contract expires in 2016. But while this isn’t exactly a far-fetched idea, it shouldn’t be an option for the superstar center.
Look, I understand the desire to play in front of family and friends on a regular basis. Every athlete, no matter the sport, cherishes that opportunity. Why wouldn’t they? It’s truly a special feeling to have, knowing loved ones are constantly in the stands rooting for you.
That being said, you’ll be opening the door for near-constant criticism. Loved ones are known for being our biggest supporters and harshest critics. Seeing them a few times per year’s one thing, as there’s only time to catch up on the important things. Being around those people 24/7, 365 is quite another, however.
Another important factor is getting the chance to win a championship. Lebron’s done that multiple times with the Miami Heat, so there’s not the same ache as before. Stamkos hasn’t right now, making that an obvious goal going forward. The question then becomes which team gives him a better chance of winning in the near future. Judging by recent history, the Lightning look poised to take that next step sooner rather than later while the Leafs are still toiling in obscurity and fantasizing about what the future could hold.
Don’t agree with me? That’s fine, but I’m not the only person who feels Tampa Bay has a shot at being Stanley Cup contenders for quite awhile. In fact, Stamkos himself recently told NHL.com he’s confident the Lightning have what it takes to win. A Vezina caliber goaltender? Check. Two Calder Trophy finalists? Check. An improved defense? Sure looks that way on paper. Capable backup netminder? I believe Evgeni Nabokov’s proven himself at all levels. Oh, and let’s not forget a guy by the name of Jonathan Drouin. If you think the departure of Martin St. Louis will make Stamkos less effective you obviously haven’t watched clips of this young phenom.
It’s also worth noting that the state of Florida doesn’t have any income taxes. That’s a factor which cannot be ignored, especially when talking about contract extensions. For example, let’s say Stamkos and the Lightning hypothetically have agreed to a $7 million contract. Minus taxes, this equals out to more money in his pocket over however many years he signs for. Toronto could offer him plenty of sponsorships, but it’s unlikely things would completely even out.
Will he leave in two years? Though unknown, Stamkos would be foolish to give up what might be his best chance at capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup just for the opportunity to play every game in front of the hometown crowd.
Tags: Steven Stamkos