Tampa Bay Lightning: Martin St. Louis gets the Hall of Fame Call
As with all major sports every year it is time to but certain players in the hall of fame. The NHL is calling my favorite Tampa Bay Lightning player, Martin St. Louis. The best part in my eyes is how much heart he had. St. Louis was not the biggest of guys among the NHL. He was an undrafted free agent most scouts thought his size would handicap him. The Calgary Flames took a chance with him.
St. Louis was a standout in college hockey at the University of Vermont. The only NHL team to give him a tryout was the Ottawa Senators. He was soon released and the only team that caught attention was the Flames. Thus the chance was given. It did not last long he would be with the Flames just two seasons. During the 2000 expansion draft, the Flames exposed him. Meaning that any of the other NHL teams could pick him up and add him to their roster. Unfortunately, no one picked him up so that made him an unrestricted free agent.
Very few teams showed interest in St. Louis. He signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000. When he signed with the Lightning he thought that this was the only team that he could have significant playing time. He struggled, in the beginning, he didn’t score a goal in the first six weeks with the Lightning. St. Louis knew he needed to change his game he also realized he was at a career crossroad. He went back to the drawing board and use his instincts to improve his game. This is when the coaching staff of the Tampa Bay Lightning started to take attention.
His second season with the Lightning was not long. Shortly into the season, he took an awkward check that resulted in a broken leg. Most players would have taken that as a terrible thing. He used the injury to improve. The season that started to lead to a hall fame career happened in 2002-03. He finished the season tied in points with teammate and captain Vincent Lecavalier they both had 70. That season he would make his first NHL All-Star game. In the 2003-04 season, he would win the Art Ross Trophy for league Most Valuable Player.
That was the season that he helped the Tampa Bay Lightning with the team’s first Stanley Cup. In the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis shined and help the Lightning move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. The opponent in the finals was the Calgary Flames. Many experts had the Flames bring the Cup back to Canada. The teams went into game 6 with the Flames having a 3-2 lead which meant the Stanley Cup was in the house. The Saddle Dome was excited it hopes their Flames were finally going to win the cup. The Dome was silenced in the second overtime period when St. Louis scored the game-winning goal.
I know as a fan I think I never screamed more when that goal went in. That meant the greatest element in sports happened a game 7. Game 7 though would be in Tampa, Florida at what was then called the St. Pete Times Forum. The Forum wanted to win the cup for Tampa because they were the underdog during the entire playoffs in 2004. Martin St. Louis did not have a goal in that game but played a huge roll in it. The Lightning would win the game 2-1 and bring the Cup where it belonged in Tampa.
St. Louis would play a few more seasons with the Lightning. He would be named the captain of the team after Lecavalier had his contract bought out. Shortly, after that, he would request a trade. He wanted to be traded to the New York Rangers. The Lightning made that trade. Many of the fans thought he was the bad guy. The first game as a Ranger the fans booed him and harass him.
He played over 1000 games and scored over 1000 points. In 2016, the Lightning retired his number 26 to the rafters and is now hanging in Amalie Arena. I personally attended that ceremony and instead of the fans booing him they embraced what he did for the Lightning. Martin ST. Louis spoke on local radio and said that it did not surprise him how the fans reacted when he left. Just recently he got the call that every athlete hopes to get a call to the Hall of Fame.
How do you feel about Martin St. Louis going into the Hockey Hall of Fame? Leave a comment below.
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