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Did Steven Stamkos return to Lightning provide a hint for the future?

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He tried to ride to the rescue. He did not save the day, but you have to give Steven Stamkos credit for trying.

He was rusty, and he was out of tune. Sitting out for 22 games, since March 31, will do that to a player. It was asking an awful lot of Stamkos to be a difference maker for the Tampa Bay Lightning in less than 12 mintues of play in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup.

What it was was enough to beg this question: Might Stamkos resign with the Lightning after all?

For months, there has been a grudging acceptance that Stamkos was gone. The last reports of his offer from the Lightning seemed low. If Stamkos didn’t sign for all of those months, then why should he now?

But here are a couple of questions:

If Stamkos didn’t want to be here, why would come back at the next available shift?

And if the Lightning didn’t need Stamkos to go all the way, why would they allow it?

“He is a big boost for us,” coach Jon Cooper said. “And he makes us a better hockey team.”

Scan the internet, and there are rumors about Stamkos with this team and that one. The Maple Leafs. The Rangers. The Islanders. Vancouver.

But if Thursday night’s game proves anything, it’s that the Lightning and Stamkos still depend on each other.

Might that stay the case?

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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