The Tampa Bay Lightning are set to retire the number of longtime fan favorite and former captain Martin St. Louis.
The day has finally come and after much discontent with his decision to leave Tampa Bay before the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Martin St. Louis will finally have his number retired by the team that he spent most of his career with.
In an announcement by Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Jeff Vinik, on Tuesday morning at Amalie Arena, the team stated that it will officially retire the number 26 for good on Jan. 13, 2017, in a game against the John Tortorella-coached Columbus Blue Jackets.
St. Louis will be the first player to have his number retired by the Lightning, and though many fans believe that former captain and long-time member of the Bolts, Vincent Lecavalier, should have his jersey lifted first, it’s a nice honor for one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Tampa Bay Lightning
As many of you know, the former captain of the Bolts requested a trade from the Lightning right before the NHL Trade Deadline and General Manager Steve Yzerman respected his decision and executed a trade with the New York Rangers. In exchange for St. Louis, the Lightning received forward
In exchange for St. Louis, the Lightning received forward Ryan Callahan, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 Draft.
Essentially, it was a captain for captain swap, as both players wore the “C” at the time, and many Tampa Bay Lightning fans were displeased with the aging, but youthful forward’s decision, especially since the team was in the midst of a run to the playoffs.
Some people even went to the extent that they botched his jersey and duct taped other players’ names and numbers and crude phrases over his in total disgust.
In a way, Lightning fans certainly had the right to be mad and upset that the beloved captain departed a team filled with youth and inexperience right before the playoffs. In case you forgot, the Montreal Canadiens went on to sweep Tampa Bay in the first round, while St. Louis and the Rangers advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
The main drama that led up to this trade was that Yzerman, the General Manager of the Canadian men’s hockey team at the time, initially snubbed St. Louis from the Team Canada Olympic roster in 2014. However, when a spot opened up after it was announced that Steven Stamkos, one of St. Louis’ teammates and close friends, couldn’t participate in the tournament so that he could continue healing from the leg injury he sustained earlier in the season, Yzerman named Marty to the roster.
Team Canada went on to win gold that year in Russia and St. Louis received his much-desired medal in the end. But, that wasn’t enough for some reason and just over a month later, the trade request occurred and all went down in Tampa Bay on March 5, 2014. That was the day when the exchange happened and as you can imagine, social media went ablaze after the shocking news spread throughout the hockey world.
A day later, the Tampa Bay Lightning appropriately decided to name Stamkos as the 10th captain in franchise history and he made his debut with the “C” on his jersey in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, which went on to win 3-1 at Amalie Arena. I remember that day vividly, as it had rained up to the start of the game, and the mood was somber in the Bay Area, fittingly enough.
His “divorce” from the franchise stung and though some fans still haven’t gotten over it yet, it’s great to know that his number will never be worn again by a member of the Lightning. And instead of going on about the negative side of his career, let’s take a look at some of the positives, as there are many.
After getting passed over by amateur scouts at NHL level, St. Louis entered the league undrafted after a memorable college hockey career at the University of Vermont and joined the Calgary Flames in 1998, which is where he spent the first two years of career.
It didn’t work out in Calgary, though, and before the 2000-01 season (on July 31, 2000, to be specific), the Lightning gave the small, but talented forward a chance. And though I won’t dive too deep into his prolific career, I will say that without him, there would be no Cup in Tampa Bay.
That could also be said for players like Brad Richards, Lecavalier, and Dave Andreychuk, but for today, this is Marty’s moment and Bolts Nation should be glad that his jersey will finally get retired.
During that historic run to the Stanley Cup in 2004, St. Louis scored nine goals and notched 24 points, which was second on the team behind Richards, and in what was one of the biggest games of the year for the Lightning, he scored the game-winning goal in double overtime in game six of the Cup Final against the Flames and forced a game seven back at the then-St. Pete Times Forum.
We all know what happened after that, as the Tampa Bay Lightning went on to win the Stanley Cup at home after defeating the Flames 2-1 in regulation. It was the greatest moment in franchise history and St. Louis was down on the ice apart of it all.
So, if you can take away one thing from his time in Tampa Bay, among the many scoring titles and awards that he won, just remember what happened on the night of June 7, 2004.
As we approach his much-anticipated jersey retirement ceremony a few months down the road, let’s take a look at what some of his teammates, friends, and the media from around the league, as well as the owner, Jeff Vinik, have said after the announcement was made.
Just for some perspective, take a look at what the almost-certain NHL Hall of Fame candidate accomplished during his 15 season career with the Flames, Lightning, and Rangers.
– Lightning Records
- 1st All-Time in Assists with 588
- 1st All-Time in Points with 953
- 1st All-Time in Short Handed Goals with 28
- 1st All-Time in Game Winning Goals with 64
- 1st All-Time in Hat Tricks with 8 (tied with Steven Stamkos)
- 1st All-Time in Power Play Points with 300
- 2nd All-Time in Goals Scored with 365
– Career Stats
- 1134 Games Played
- 391 Goals
- 641 Assists
- 1033 Points
- 107 Career Playoff Games
- 42 Playoff Goals
- 48 Playoff Assists
- 90 Playoff Points
– Awards and Honors
- Hart Memorial Trophy: 2003-04
- Art Ross Trophy: 2003-04, 2012-13
- World Cup of Hockey Champion: 2004
- Olympic Gold Medalist: 2014
- NHL All-Star: 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
- Lester B. Pearson Award: 2003-04
- Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13
Those stats don’t lie and they tell the story of a determined player with heart and passion for the game of hockey, who wanted to have success at the highest level. Fortunately, the Lightning gave the undersized Martin St. Louis a chance to play when no one else would and that ended up being one of the best signings ever made in franchise history.
Despite the rough ending and all the emotions that followed on that frustrating day in March of 2014, all we can say at this point is “Thank you, Marty!” Yes, thank you, for all that you did for everyone in Tampa Bay.