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Lightning hangs onto star center Steven Stamkos with contract extension

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Steven Stamkos is staying home.

Stamkos, after a year’s worth of negotiation, after a mountain of rumors as where he might be going and why, has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos’ new contract is worth $68 million over eight years.

“I am excited to move forward with the Lightning today for the next eight years,” said Stamkos. “It’s not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our goal of winning a Stanley Cup.”

Stamkos had met with the Maple Leafs this week in a meeting that included John Tory, Toronto’s mayor, and Michal B. Medine, the CEO of Canadian Tire. Because it was near his hometown, many felt that Stamkos would lean there or to nearby franchises such as Detroit or Buffalo.

But Stamkos, the captain of the Lightning, never stopped using “we” when discussing the Lightning. He has been here his entire career, and barring a trade, he will be here for the biggest portion of it. He is only 26.

“We are very appreciative of the effort and commitment that Steven and his representatives have exhibited in getting a deal done,” general manager Steve Yzerman said upon making the announcement today. “We are excited to have him as a cornerstone part of the team for the next eight years as we continue in the franchise’s ultimate pursuit of winning another Stanley Cup.”

Since the 2008-2009 season, Stamkos is second in goals to only Alex Ovechkin among active players.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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