Tha Sports Junkies 101

Lightning to Retire St. Louis’ No. 26

Tha Sports Junkies 101-Sports News, St. Louis clyde/via

Forward to become First-Ever Tampa Player to have Number Retired


TAMPA BAY-When he entered the league during the 1998-99 season, not many people thought forward Martin St. Louis would have a long, impacting career in the NHL. At 5’8″, many thought that he was surely too small to play in a tough, physically demanding sport. He proved them wrong and will soon be honored in a special way by one of his former teams.

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Thursday that they will retire St. Louis’ No. 26, becoming the first Lightning player ever to have his number retired.

Despite starting his career with the Calgary Flames and ending it with the New York Rangers, St. Louis established himself as a superstar during 13 seasons with the Lightning.

During his time with Tampa Bay, the Quebec native became the franchise leader in points (953), assists (588), short-handed goals (28), game-winning goals (64) and power-play points (300). He also is tied with current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos for the franchise lead in hat tricks with eight and is second in goals with 365 goals, only behind Vincent Lecavalier‘s 383.

St. Louis will forever hold a special place in Lightning fans’ hearts as he was a key member of the 2004 team that won the Stanley Cup, their only championship in team history. That season was also a special for him, personally, as he won the Art Ross trophy as the NHL’s top scorer, the Hart Trophy as league MVP, the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL Players’ Association’s most outstanding player, and was named a first team NHL All-Star.

The former University of Vermont standout would go on to win the Art Ross Trophy again at age 37 during the shortened 2012-13 season, becoming the oldest player ever to lead the league in scoring.

Apart from winning those awards, St. Louis was also a three-time winner (2009, 2010, 2013) of the Lady Byng Trophy, given to the player for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly play combined with a high standard of playing ability.

Not only did he have a high standard of playing ability, he also was a consistent scorer. From 2002-03 to 2013-14, St. Louis tallied at least 60 points in each season. He would surpass the 80-point plateau six times during that span.

Excluding the shortened 2012-13 campaign, St. Louis scored at least 21 goals from 2002-03 until his final season in 2014-15. He would scored 30+ goals seven times during that run.

While questions abounded about if he would be able to last in such a grinding sport and season when his career started, St. Louis proved that he was a durable player.

From 2006-07 to 2010-11, he would play in every game, including the playoffs, for the Lightning. In fact, he would play 75+ games 11 times during his 16-year career. He would finish his career with 1,134 regular season games played.

St. Louis’ number will be retired on January 13, 2017 at Amalie Arena when Tampa Bay hosts head coach John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tortorella was the Lightning coach when they won the Cup in 2004.