Martin St-Louis has been an underdog his whole career, even one year removed from an NHL scoring title he was originally left off Team Canada’s Olympic squad. But with Steven Stamkos unable to attend, the feel-good story of St-Louis takes another turn.
A friend sent me a message last night: “If Martin St-Louis doesn’t get the nod for Team Canada, will there be a riot?”
I don’t think the situation was that dire, of course (and neither did he really), but most fans with a rooting interest in the Red and White were pulling for the inclusion of St-Louis.
He’s the best feel-good story on a stacked team of all-stars. He’s not the only undrafted player – Chris Kunitz was never picked either – but he’s had a decorated and successful career any No. 1 overall pick would be happy to achieve. He’s the underdog of underdogs, cut by the Flames in 2000 and signed by the Lightning. Four seasons later, he was a Hart, Art Ross and Stanley Cup winner and has been one of the most consistent top producers in the NHL ever since.
And now, finally, he’s on Team Canada’s 2014 Olympic team at the age of 38.
“I’m just glad to get the opportunity,” St. Louis said to a gathering of media in Tampa Bay today. “I feel like my whole career has been a back-door entrance. This is no different. It’s a big opportunity and I’m glad to be there.”
The 5-foot-8 St-Louis is an inspirational tale for all undersized hockey players and a terrific example for players everywhere of what hard work and perseverance can get you. In 2011-12, he failed to reach 80 points for the first time in six years, but instead of starting an aged decline, he went out and won his second Art Ross last season. And if you thought Steven Stamkos was helping prop up St-Louis, he again proved you wrong by scoring 38 points in 39 games since Stamkos went down with a broken leg.
St-Louis piggybacks on no one. His whole career has played out the way it has because of his dedication to and love for the game. He’s one of the most passionate players and greatest leaders in the NHL today. You can make the case that Claude Giroux or James Neal or even Eric Staal should have taken Stamkos’ place in the Olympics, but in the end, you can’t make a credible case against St-Louis. He deserves to be there for his skill, he deserves to be there for his leadership, he deserves to be there for his versatility and he deserves to be there because you know he’ll still show up with a chip in his shoulder.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman had to make the difficult call to leave his NHL captain off the Olympic team last month and was faced with the possibility of having to snub him twice. But this time he made a call everyone can support, understand and feel good about.
Martin St-Louis may be the most deserving Canadian Olympian on the men’s hockey team.
The weird/wonderful thing about this snub/un-snub is that Marty St. Louis is now more popular and appreciated than he’s ever been.
— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) February 6, 2014