His mind wandered, but Steven Stamkos’ heart always remained in Tampa Bay.
Stamkos, who agreed to an eight-year extension for $68 million dollars, surprised a lot of people around the league when he chose to stay.
I felt in my heart that Tampa was always the place I wanted to stay,” Stamkos said. “It was just following your heart and being loyal to the organization that brought me up and made me the player and person that I am today.”
Stamkos, 26, admitted he could have made more money by leaving. But that wouldn’t have been a bargain
“I grew up as a kid there,” Stamkos said. “And this team is on the verge of hopefully competing for Stanley Cups for years to come and me being the captain and being a leader… I know the process took a lot longer than maybe both parties would have liked, but in every decision in life you want to make the best decision.
“If we want to stay to together, there’s going to be sacrifices for both sides,” Stamkos said. “I believe the core we have understands that.
“Some people chase the most money possible. I realized the situation. There could have been some money left out there, but for me, that’s not what is was all about. I was comfortable this was something that gave me the best chance to win.”
Stamkos admitted there were days when his mind wandered.
“It was a very tough decision, it truly was,” Stamkos said on a conference call. “I can’t say this past week has been fun. It was pretty stressful, to be honest.”