St. Louis isn’t sentimental about time with Lightning ahead of Eastern Conference Final

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Maybe when it’s all over, Martin St. Louis will sit back and think more about his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But not now. Not while his New York Rangers are up against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, which begins Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

St. Louis spent almost 13 seasons in Tampa Bay, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2004. The Lightning honored him in his return to Tampa Bay in November.

Last season, however, he requested a trade out of Tampa Bay and was dealt to the Rangers at the deadline, with Ryan Callahan coming back to the Lightning.

It’s a juicy storyline — St. Louis and Callahan facing their former teams — so close to the championship series.

“No, it’s not something I think about right now. Right now it’s a team that’s standing in the way of where we want to go,” St. Louis told reporters on Friday.

“I have a lot of respect for the organization over there and the people there. They treated me really well. It’s not time to reflect on it. It’s time to play playoff hockey.”

St. Louis began his time with the Lightning in the 2000-2001 season, and was just shy of a point-per-game pace when Steven Stamkos, now one of the league’s most prolific scorers, was in his rookie season with Tampa Bay.

On the subject of facing former teammates and whether this situation with St. Louis is different, Stamkos said, “I think we’re all over that, to be honest.”

However, the 25-year-old Stamkos talked openly about the impact St. Louis, now 39 years old, had on his career at a young age.

“He was a guy that took me under his wing since I was 18 years old. We got a chance to play with each other throughout probably just over halfway through my rookie year,” said Stamkos.

“Things obviously went very well. He’s the ultimate competitor, the ultimate professional. I mean, you could go on and on with how well he conducts himself. It was a perfect situation for me to come in and have a guy like him and have a guy like (Vincent Lecavalier) there.”