Just about every Bolts fan will agree that the #26 will one day be displayed from the rafters of the Forum. However, when Martin St. Louis made his entrance into the National Hockey League, there was no parade, photographers, or lines of fans waiting for an autograph. In fact, he didn’t play an NHL game until over a year after he had graduated from college, and it would be years more before he reached star status.
Despite his stellar performance playing for the University of Vermont where he scored 91 goals and 176 assists in 139 games, he was not highly scouted and accepted an invitation by the Ottawa Senators to attend training camp. After being released from the Senators training camp in September ’97, St. Louis waited five months before the Calgary Flames signed him on as a free agent.
St. Louis played 95 games for the Calgary’s AHL affiliate Saint John Flames where he scored 58 goals and 56 assists for an average of 1.2 points per game. His success in the minors didn’t immediately translate to the NHL. On October 16, 1998, in his first NHL appearance, St. Louis sported a -2 rating in 11 minutes on the ice when the Flames were beat 7-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs. After three seasons, he was released by Calgary’s new GM Craig Button. One team’s trash is another team’s treasure! And, things began to change for the young winger when, on July 31, 2000, Martin St. Louis signed a two-year deal with the Lightning.