TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning will retire the number 26 worn by the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Martin St. Louis, Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik announced Thursday.
St. Louis, who becomes the first player in the history of the Lightning organization to have his jersey retired, played 972 games over 13 seasons with the team, tallying 365 goals and 588 assists for 953 points. He will be honored on Friday, January 13, 2017, when the Lightning host John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets at AMALIE Arena.
“Everyone in the organization is excited to celebrate and thank Marty for his immense long-term contributions to the Lightning’s past successes and the Tampa Bay community,” said Vinik upon making the announcement. “As Marty enters his second year in retirement from the game, we believe this season is the time to hang his number from the rafters at AMALIE Arena.
“Marty had a terrific career in Tampa Bay, making six All-Star appearances while setting numerous team records, all highlighted of course by the Stanley Cup win in 2004. We look forward to a wonderful retirement ceremony, recognizing him for all that he accomplished as a member of the Lightning.”
St. Louis, signed by the Lightning as a free agent on July 31, 2000, currently ranks first in team history for points (953), assists (588), short-handed goals (28), game-winning goals (64), hat tricks (8 – tied with Steven Stamkos), and power-play points (300). He ranks second in goals scored with 365, behind Vincent Lecavalier’s 383 goals, and also second for games played with 972.
“To have my number retired by the Lightning is a tremendous honor and I’d like to thank Jeff Vinik and everyone in the organization for recognizing me this way,” said St. Louis. “I have many great memories in Tampa Bay, including our great Stanley Cup win, and this night will be extremely special and emotional for my family and me.
“I am happy I will get to share the evening with all the Lightning fans who have always supported me throughout my career – Tampa Bay will always feel like home to me. Additionally, I recognize that none of this would have been possible without the help of many great teammates, trainers, and coaches and I thank them.”
Known for his durability, St. Louis holds the franchise record for most consecutive games played with 499 from 2005-2011. During that span, he played in every regular season and Stanley Cup Playoff game for more than five consecutive seasons.
His greatest single year with the Lightning came in 2003-04 when he helped lead the franchise to their only Stanley Cup championship. St. Louis won several individual honors that season, including the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s point leader. He also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the National Hockey League Players Association’s Most Outstanding Player. He was also named a first team NHL All-Star that season.
Additionally, St. Louis played in six (2003, ’04, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11) NHL All-Star games, was a four-time All-NHL second team selection (2006-07, ’09-10, ’10-11, ’12-13) and he won the Art Ross Trophy for the second time in 2012-13, becoming, at age 37, the oldest player in league history to be its single season leading scorer. St. Louis also won the NHL’s Lady Byng Memorial Trophy three-times (2009-10, ’10-11, ’12-13), given to the player for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly play combined with a high standard of playing ability. St. Louis twice led the NHL in assists – with 56 in 2003-04 and with 43 in 48 games played in 2012-13.
A native of Laval, Quebec, St. Louis played college hockey for the University of Vermont, leading the Catamounts to the NCAA Frozen Four in 1996 while earning All-America status in three of those years (1994-95 through 1996-97). Internationally, St. Louis was a two-time Olympian (2006, 2014), winning a gold medal with Team Canada in 2014. In addition to playing for the Lightning from 2000-01 through 2013-14, he played for the Calgary Flames (1998-99 through 1999-2000) and the New York Rangers (2013-14 through 2014-15).
(© 2017 WTSP)