As made official today, the Tampa Bay Lightning will retire the number of one of the franchise greats, Martin St. Louis, in January.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik announced at press conference today that the team will retire the number of Martin St. Louis during a ceremony before the Lightning take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, January 13, 2017, at Amalie Arena.
The decision to retire his number before fellow Tampa Bay Lightning great Vincent Lecavalier came to the surprise of many, even though both equally deserve to have their jerseys retired.
In response to that, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Vinik said that the organization is “evaluating” Vinny very carefully and taking things one step at a time, which is a bit of an odd thing to say.
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It’s a no brainer that Lecavalier should have his number retired and there should be no evaluation needed. But, that’s beside the point.
In any matter, St. Louis wore the number 26 during his 13 seasons with the Lightning and it’s only fitting that his jersey will be lifted in front of John Tortorella, who was one of his former head coaches, among others.
In addition to that, his number will also be the first to be retired in Tampa Bay Lightning history, which is a special honor for a player of his importance to the Tampa Bay community and hockey world.
One could say that he inspired a whole generation of smaller and undersized hockey players, perhaps, to pick up a stick and hit the ice without worrying about how well they could play and stack up against some of the bigger skaters. As we know, St. Louis certainly made a career for himself and dominated the league at times, despite his smaller stature.
As we know, St. Louis certainly made a career for himself and dominated the league at times, despite his smaller stature.
As expected, some of his former teammates, friends from around the league, and certain media members chimed in on social media and congratulated St. Louis on his number retirement.
And from the man himself:
As you can see, St. Louis was beloved by his teammates and respected by many around the league for his sportsmanship and character, as demonstrated by the three Lady Byng Trophies (for best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct) that he was awarded during his career, among the many others.
Some other highlights of his inspirational and eventful playing career include appearing in 499 consecutive games with the team from 2005 through 2011, which is a franchise record.
He also received six NHL All-Star Game nominations, an Olympic Gold Medal in 2014 and World Cup of Hockey champion in 2004, one-time Lester B. Pearson award-winner (now called the Ted Lindsay Award) for the NHL’s most outstanding player during the 2003-04 season.
St. Louis is also a two-time Art Ross Trophy winner (for the most points during the regular season) in 2003-04 and 2012-13 (shortened season), and one-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner for the league MVP during the 03-04 season.
We could go on and on about how great of a player St. Louis was and with all of the awards and nominations listed above, there’s no need to; what he accomplished speaks for itself. Ultimately, we’re sure that the winning Stanley Cup is his proudest accomplishment as a hockey player, other than maybe representing his home country on the world stage.
There’s no doubt that Martin St. Louis is one of the greatest players in Tampa Bay Lightning history and to be the first to have his number retired is a great honor. He gave his all on the ice and now the organization that he and his teammates lifted to prominence in the NHL is giving back to him by retiring his jersey for good. That night in mid-January will definitely be a special one. Thank you, Marty!