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Lightning respond to Stamkos, Maple Leafs speculation via Twitter

Tom Szczerbowski / USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos has been dogged by speculation about returning home to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team he rooted for growing up, ever since he favorited a couple of tweets about a potential homecoming several weeks ago.

On Wednesday, Stamkos took part in a Coca Cola sponsored fundraising event to benefit the Special Olympics. As part of that undertaking, Stamkos was made available to the press at length, and fielded questions about potentially returning home. 

The Lightning sniper was quoted by Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press talking about playing in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, and said:

I'm from around here (the Toronto area) and grew up cheering for the Leafs, so any time I get a chance to come back here I enjoy it, and any time I get a chance to play against the Leafs it's fun. It's also fun beating them, too, because a lot of my friends are still Leaf fans.

Added Stamkos about become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016: "We'll see what happens. It's a couple years away."

Stamkos also commented on LeBron James returning home to play in Cleveland, saying: "Good for him."

Lost in the disproportionate reaction to these quotes, were all the good things Stamkos said about playing in Tampa Bay and the compliments he handed out to Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. 

Obviously the Lightning felt the need to respond, so they published an article on the team website titled "Stamkos Says Lightning Can Contend for Stanley Cup" that uses Stamkos' quotes from the Canadian Press article on Wednesday, except this article highlighted all the positive things the superstar forward said about Tampa Bay and the Lightning:

The 24-year-old forward is nearly two full years away from unrestricted free agency. The fact that this is already a thing - and a thing that came out of Stamkos favoriting a tweet and saying innocuous things about his hometown club - tells you everything you need to know about the speculation fever pitch that will come down the pipeline should the Lightning and Stamkos not agree to a long-term contract extension next summer.

Lightning respond to Stamkos, Maple Leafs speculation via Twitter
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