Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, will be hosting a press conference this morning at Amalie Arena that the club is going to retire the jersey number of retired Lightning great, Martin St. Louis. Marking the first time in the franchises history that they have retired a players number.
St. Louis, 41, retired following the 2014-15 season. His NHL career started with hard work and perseverance.
“To have my number retired by the Lightning is a tremendous honor and I’d like to thank Jeff Vinik and everyone in the organization for recognizing me this way,” said St. Louis. “I have many great memories in Tampa Bay, including our great Stanley Cup win, and this night will be extremely special and emotional for my family and me.
“I am happy I will get to share the evening with all the Lightning fans who have always supported me throughout my career – Tampa Bay will always feel like home to me. Additionally, I recognize that none of this would have been possible without the help of many great teammates, trainers, and coaches and I thank them.”
A Laval, Quebec native that opted to go the collegiate route rather than go through the juniors ranks, St. Louis played four seasons with the University of Vermont. In his freshman campaign the right wing was selected to the NCAA – ECAC All-Rookie Team after recording 49 points in 32 games. Looking to build on his first experience the following season he put the notion of a sophomore slump to shame with 71 points in 35 appearances and earning his first nomination for the Hobey Baker Award (NCAA Top Collegiate Player, was the NCAA- ECAC Player of the Year and named to the First All-American Team.
His junior and senior campaigns saw the 5’8” right wing serve as the team captain and earn two more goes at the Hobey Baker Award. In total St. Louis played in 138 NCAA games and scored 90 goals and had 265 points, ending his collegiate career with 163 penalty minutes and a plus-24.
Going undrafted due to his size, St. Louis spent the 1997-98 season split with the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the IHL and the Saint John Flames of the AHL.
It was the following season (1998-99) that St. Louis would make his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames. In 13 appearances he had two points and 10 penalty minutes; the follow season Calgary would give him 56 games and he would score three goals and 18 points.
After two seasons with the Flames St. Louis made his way to the Tampa Bay Lighting for the 2000-01 season and saw at that time a career high of 78 games played. In his debut with the Lightning he had 18 goals and 40 points, a mere 12 penalty minutes.
With the Lightning St. Louis went on to be a Stanley Cup Champion and was named to the NHL All-Star game on five occasions.
In 2003-04 alone he was an All-Star, lead the NHL in assists (56), playoff assists (15), he recorded the most points in the league with 94 to win the Art Ross Trophy, he was named the Hart Trophy winner for the NHL’s most valuable player, Was the NHL’s MVP as selected by the NHLPA for the Ted Lindsay Award, Won the Stanley Cup, and a World Cup of Hockey gold medal.
In total St. Louis won four medals representing his native Canada; the gold at the World Cup he has two IIHF Men’s World Championship silver medals, and an Olympic gold medal.
St. Louis’ legacy with Tampa is one that the fans and the organization will never forget. The undrafted kid from Quebec worn an A for the club in seven campaigns and in his final season with Tampa in 2013-14 he served as the team’s captain.
In 1134 career NHL games he scored 391 goals and 642 assists for 1033 career NHL points. He ended his career with 310 penalty minutes after earning the leagues Lady Byng Award for most gentlemanly players three times and was a plus-37. In the post season he had another 107 appearances and 42 goals for 90 career NHL playoff points.
A career that looked like it could have been over after going undrafted in college the accomplishments of St. Louis will be honor and memorialized by the Lightning with the retirement of his number 26 and hanging of a banner in his honor.