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Why hasn’t the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos signed a new contract yet?

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He has the time to make the first swirling S, and time to make the second. He can cross both t’s at his leisure. He can loop the m. He can underline if he wants.

Yeah, Steven Stamkos has lots of time to sign a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Doesn’t he?

So why hasn’t he?

The season is speeding toward us, and still, Stamkos is unsigned. Although Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said earlier in the summer that signing Stamkos was his No. 1 priority, and most people around the league  agree with the general financial framework, the deal is still not done.

Which leaves us with two possibilities:

1) These things take time. The players’ union would like this to be a standard-setting deal, so Stamkos really is being careful here. He says negotiations are “in the middle” of getting a deal done, and he acts as if this is the place he wants to be. And if that’s the deal, well, the rest of us can just wait. What’s the fuss?

2) Stamkos would like to try a new team, maybe one north of the border, maybe the one in Toronto, that can promise endorsements he would never see in Tampa Bay. If that’s the case, Stamkos could force the hand of the Lightning – in much the same way that Marty St. Louis did – and the team would have no choice but to move him for some type of return during the season.

Of course, we all hope that Stamkos is merely taking his time, that the Lightning is where he sees himself playing for years to come. That’s the best option for success. Last year wasn’t the most consistent year of Stamkos’ career, but he still got 43 goals. He’s still the team leader here.

You’d hate for Stamkos to clear his throat and clear out of town. You’d hate for Yzerman to be in the familiar spot of having to make the best deal he can make.

Hey, we’ve got empty nets here. We have a high regard for Stamkos, too. We appreciate all the goals he’s scored so far.

This is Stamkos’ home now. It would be nice if he would stay.

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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