Stamkos has always been a star with Bolts

by Gary Shelton on December 1, 2022

in general

Stamkos has built a legacy brick-by-brick./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

He is Derrick Brooks, when you think about it.

He is Evan Longoria.

There are pieces of Marty St. Louis there. Maybe some John Lynch. A little bit of Mike Alstott.

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His stardom is dependable. He is a longtime Tampa Bay star. When in a uniform, he is a force. Long after some thought he was done, he has continued to excel.

He is Steven Stamkos, and he is about the to let the world know what we in Tampa Bay have known for some time. He is greatness.

Stamkos will go after his 1,000th NHL point tonight. It's a level of success, but 94 other players have reached the goal. Heck, Wayne Gretzky had almost three times that total.

But after all of his injuries, after all of the lost seasons when someone other than Jeff Vinik owned this team, he is still a player who matters for the Lightning. He is a champion, and he a spokesman, and he is on his way to being a Hall of Famer.

That's the significance of career achievements; they remind us of how good a player has been for how long. Brick by brick, Stamkos has built a legacy that won't be forgotten.

Oh, you can debate whether he is quite the scoring force that he was in his younger days, back when he had a 60-goal season. But you cannot argue that other heads turn toward Stamkos when the air gets thin. His goal against Buffalo was the 13th time he has ended things with an overtime goal. He has scored the winning goal 75 times -- almost a season's worth.

He is not as fast as Brayden Point. He is not as creative as Nikita Kucherov. But on this team, he is Captain Crunch. He shines when his team needs it the most.

Now, consider the career that might have been.

Since the 2016 season, the Lightning have played without Stamkos 112 times in the regular season, 40 more in the playoffs. Take those missed games away, and he'd have another 115 points or so. (He's averaging a little more than a point a game).

In cities across America, there are what I call "face" players. The faces of the local franchise, the profile you think of when someone mentions a team. When they speak, it represents the franchise. Longoria was that way. Brooks, in a quieter way, was, too. Their play makes you listen, and their voice makes you understand.

Stamkos has grown up here. He has been the flashy rookie, the young star, the established veteran. We have seen him grow into an immortal.

Frankly, we don't need another milestone to tell us how good he has been.

Stamkos made us aware of that a long time ago.


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