Report: Lightning name Stamkos captain

Mar 6, 7:19 PM

With Martin St. Louis now a New York Ranger, it appears the Tampa Bay Lightning have selected the obvious choice to replace him as team captain.

However, based on this photo from warmups on Thursday, the letter C has yet to officially be placed on his jersey.

Stamkos, who is making his return to the lineup Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres after 45-game absence due to a broken tibia suffered in November, previously served as an alternate captain.

Either way, the Lightning will no doubt welcome Stamkos and his scoring prowess back to the lineup with wide-open arms.

Mar 10, 9:14 AM

Stamkos on captaincy: 'under the circumstances, I want to be the leader on this team'

Mar 10, 9:14 AM

There was a debate as to whether veteran Martin St. Louis or young, proven goal-scorer (and the future of the team) Steven Stamkos would captain the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the season. The veteran winger got the nod, with the team going for the more experienced candidate.

With St. Louis requesting a trade and being shipped off to New York, the Lightning once again had a captain's vacancy. This time, it was filled with the only candidate they had.

Stamkos would be named captain, an honor that would have followed soon anyway, under less than ideal circumstances.

"I was just hoping I didn't fall on the ice. It was a tremendous honor. It's not really the way I envisioned it happening. But under the circumstances, I want to be the leader on this team," Stamkos told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

Head coach Jon Cooper knew it was only a matter of time until Stamkos had the "C" on his jersey.

"He's always had exceptional leadership in him," Cooper told Smith, "I just think he always took a backseat to other players that were here. And it wasn't that he was nervous. It was a respect thing. He wasn't going to step on anybody's toes."

It's the Stamkos era in Tampa now, something Cooper believes will work out just fine. "It just shows the class the kid has. But it's time. I think this is the right time for him to take this team over."

Lightning forward Nate Thompson agrees with the captaincy along with every other player in the dressing room.

"When Stammer speaks, everybody listens," Thompson said.

It surely doesn't hurt that Stamkos is the team's best player, with 23 points in 19 games this season and a league-best 0.69 goals per game over the past three years.

Feature photo courtesy of Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Mar 6, 7:46 PM

VIDEO: Lightning name Stamkos captain

Mar 6, 7:46 PM

While he skated in warmups prior to Thursday's game wearing an "A" on his jersey, Steven Stamkos lagged behind his teammates as they took to the ice for their game against the Buffalo Sabres, setting up a big reveal.

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail astutely grabbed the news from the game's lineup sheet, which just doesn't seem dramatic enough.

Here's a look at Stamkos with the shiny new "C" on his jersey.

As a refresher, Stamkos was drafted first overall by the Lightning in 2008, and has registered 222 goals and 187 assists in 390 career games.