New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis is "expecting the worst" as he prepares to return to Tampa Bay on Wednesday for the first time since forcing a trade from the Lightning last season.
The Rangers and Lightning play Wednesday night, bringing St. Louis back to Tampa after his trade in March. St. Louis, 39, told ESPN that he's prepared for a harsh reaction from the Lightning crowd.
"I'm not sure, I'm expecting the worst. I'm OK with it, I understand the pain, I guess, that I gave the fans," St. Louis, 39, said. "It was so sudden, I think that sometimes it hurts more when it happens quick. I get how they would see it. But I think with time, and how everything has gone for both sides, hopefully some of those wounds have healed and they appreciate the years that I had there, not so much the time that I haven't been there. We'll see how it unfolds.''
The Lightning are planning to honor St. Louis with a video tribute during the first period, as the team has done for other former players who return to Tampa.
St. Louis made his trade request after being left off Canada's team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was overseeing Team Canada's roster selection, and he elected not to cave to St. Louis' demands. St. Louis ultimately made Canada's roster as an injury replacement for Lightning center Steven Stamkos, but his trade demands persisted.
St. Louis, along with a conditional 2015 second-round pick, was sent to the Rangers in March in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a 2015 first-round draft pick, a conditional 2014 second-round pick and a conditional 2015 seventh-round pick.
St. Louis faced the Lightning as a member of the Rangers on Nov. 17, scoring New York's only goal in a 5-1 loss at Madison Square Garden. On the season, he has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 20 games played.
- Mike Fiammetta