Steven Stamkos needs to be ‘Race for existence,’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper says after first-round playoff exit

Following his team of workers’s season-ending Recreation 5 loss to the Florida Panthers, Steven Stamkos remained on the ice and greeted every teammate sooner than they went down the tunnel. These might maybe well merely were Stamkos’ final moments as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but head coach Jon Cooper hopes that’s no longer the case.

Stamkos, 34, is made up our minds to turn into an unrestricted free agent this summer season. Contract talks between the Lightning captain and the team of workers appear to non-public gone nowhere. Stamkos’ future is terribly grand up within the air, but Cooper can’t imagine his captain on any completely different team of workers.

“I don’t know if there’ll almost certainly be grand dialog [about Stamkos leaving],” Cooper acknowledged in his postgame press conference. “I hope no longer, anyway. He belongs right here. He is aware of it. But again, this is 2 seconds after a game, but he and I non-public grown up together. He’s a heck of a participant. … I don’t know what’s going to happen, but he feels relish a Race for existence, but entirely he and Julien [BriseBois] can answer that one.”

Because the clock ticked down at Amerant Financial institution Enviornment, the Panthers held a monumental lead that entirely ballooned with a pair of empty web objectives. The game ended, 6-1, in favor of the Panthers. Despite the lopsided procure, Stamkos acknowledged he never took the time to ponder whether or no longer that used to be his Lightning finale.

“No, that never crossed my mind,” Stamkos acknowledged. “I’m accessible combating to support our team of workers bag on the stop of the game, no topic the procure. There’s some satisfaction on the freeway for our community.”

If Stamkos does hit the originate market, there’ll almost certainly be a line of groups around the block looking to signal him. A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Stamkos has 555 objectives and 582 assists in 1,082 games performed. Stamkos might maybe well merely no longer be on the live of his powers anymore, but he is smooth an elite energy play weapon, and he can provide a wealth of skills and management to any locker room around the league.

The query is no longer undoubtedly whether or no longer Stamkos is executed making monumental-time plays. The query is whether or no longer he’ll proceed to construct that in a Lightning jersey.

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