Stettenkirk turns himself red, helping the Lightning win the Stanley Cup


Wounded captain Steven Stamkos, Resumed to play 2:47 during the Lightning’s entire postson run, the game welcomed the defenseman from the ice after 4 goals.

Two men hugged, one in hockey gear, one in street clothes. It was a moment of celebration, of joy, of “well done work” and “thank you” and not the best laid plans to work as usual.

For Schtenkirk, there was relief and redemption. For Schottenkirk, the championship was the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice, one of the tallest buildings possibly in hockey, just a little over a year from one of their lowest lows.

Because Schtenkirk was not going to play or win the Stanley Cup with the Lightning. It was scheduled to happen to his hometown of the New York Rangers, who signed him to a four-year contract for $ 6.65 million annually on July 1, 2017.

Video: TBL @ DAL, Gm4: Shattenkirk wins Game 4 in net PPG, OT

But on 1 August 2019, after two seasons, Rangers bought his contract. His time in New York was over after 119 matches.

“It was obviously very painful to see him go through the process of something that should have been so spectacular and something that I think is in the back of his head,” said Shettenkirk’s longtime agent Jordan Newman. For just not working was very painful for everyone who loves and cares for him. ”

The Newton experiment, which is seen as a homecoming for Schtenkirk, which would put the Rangers in a Stanley Cup feud, ended in a rebuild Schtenkirk would not attend. The Rangers had been in the Stanley playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, including the finals. 2014 and Eastern Conference final next season. But after Stettenkirk’s arrival, the Rangers missed the playoffs in 2018 and 2019.

In 2016–17, the team from the Washington Capital, Stettenkirk, won the cup in 2018. The St. Louis Blues, their team from 2010–17, won in 2019.

He did not know what the future would hold.

“[You] Shattenkirk said it doesn’t really know what the method is or how the chips are going to fall at that point, “It was hard to see my former teams two years before winning the Stanley Cup, the group of people I was with. And pass. Happens. It surprises you. It makes you think. ”

His phone started ringing. Although most teams were already committed to their free agents, the teams allowed SpaceCon to score goals. He saw Lightning, and he saw a strong core of left shots in the Tampa Bay defenseman group, which would allow him to pair up with Victor headman or Ryan McDonough or Mikhail SargchevA dream for any right-shot defenseman.

He signed for one season and $ 1.75 million, four days after the Rangers bought his contract.

“In my mind, when everything happened last summer, my goal was to get myself in a position to prove myself and show that I could still be a player in this league,” Schtenkirk said, An unrestricted free agent October. .

Video: DAL @ TBL, Gm2: Stenkirk shooting through traffic

The Lightning were thrilled. They further added Pat maroon And protector Luke ShaneAnd was confident that the three Giants would make the difference after the 2018–19 season when they finished with 128 points, the fourth-largest in NHL history, but were swept four matches in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. They had to make changes, including team culture, and Schtenkirk was a big piece of that.

“Ultimately, when you’re trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, you’re accumulating talent,” said Power General Manager Julian Brisboy, “but really you’re building a team, and they’re There were all the important pieces to help. This picture has come together for us this year. ”

This was his vision. This was Stenkirk’s vision.

He was just a little farther south than that.

“The second half of the two years was eye-opening for how he wanted to play on a winning team, and how important it was to win,” Newman said. “Being in a place where he knew he could win, I think he was really surprised. I think he clearly felt like he had something to prove. , That what happened in New York was not really what he was as a player. And put those two things together and I’m not even a little surprised that he’s an outstanding year. ”

Stettenkirk scored 34 points (eight goals, 26 points) in 70 games this season and was plus-22, and scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 25 postseason games. Always dangerous on the power play, he has been found to be a fit, as a part of the whole, a piece of a defenseman group consisting of players with large roles. The Lightning let him be a player when he found a home with the Blues.

When Ken Hitchcock coached him for six seasons in St. Louis, Schtenkirk was adept. He did not force his offensive game. He shook the puck well. He let the game come to him. This did not happen in New York.

There, nothing happened as planned. The Rangers missed the playoffs in 2018. Schtenkirk finished with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 46 matches, one season removed from scoring 56 (13 goals, 43 assists) in 80 games between the Blues and the Capitals. He was minus-14. He had 28 points (two goals, 26 assists) in 73 matches for New York the following season and was minus-15.

Instead of being a piece, Schtenkirk felt the need to be the main piece. It was not he who sought her as a free agent. It was not what made him successful. It wasn’t even really who he was as a person. As Newman put it, “As long as he’ll tell you he’s a great golfer, there’s no doubt when you spend time with Kevin that he was born to play a team sport.”

The way he was playing in New York was not.

Hitchcock said, “You feel like there’s a team here that recruited me, they wanted me, and I’ve agreed to produce.” “So sometimes you’re stuck trying to produce instead of just getting fit. And then suddenly the internal pressure on yourself really starts to increase, and it’s tough. It’s hard for players to sort that stuff out.”

But there were lessons in New York. Are important.

“I think it made him a better person, it made him a better hockey player,” Newman said. “Was it working? No. But he’s also the first to say that he has no regrets because he wanted to see what he liked to play for his hometown team. And didn’t he take that opportunity Gotta do what he regrets. So, yeah, it didn’t work. But there’s no regrets – you move on as a better person and a better player. ”

He became exactly that with Tampa Bay, going back to his roots, fully fit on ice and in the dressing room, some leadership roles required Lightning to fill.

And he let the experience with the Rangers drive him, pushing him.

“I’ve said before, I can never forget what happened last summer,” Schtenkirk said. “I’ve used that I don’t get fuel and just rest.”

The game was Friday, in some ways, a subtle enlightenment through Stenkirk in the previous year — plus.

Goal to tie stars center Joe Pavelski 8:25 remaining in the third period fell to Stenkirk’s knee. But Schtenkirk was undefeated. With the Lightning on the power play in overtime, he took a wrist shot from the right face-off circle.

It went inside. Once again, he was redeemed.

His lowest low had pushed him to as high a position as he has ever been in his career.

“I think the entire hockey world is now able to sit back and … hopefully we all knew two, three, four, even eight or nine years ago what a great player he is.” “And I think maybe in the last two years here with bumps in the road, maybe he forgot a little bit.

“So if there’s some redemption in it, I think it’s fantastic.”

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