No one expected Martin St-Louis to play forever and coming off of a season in which he scored 21 goals and 52 points in 74 games, he likely could have played one more season. Even St-Louis, at his retirement press conference, admitted that much. But the 40-year-old said his heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
“I knew there were teams interested," St-Louis said. "I understood the Rangers situation in terms of the salary cap. I think if my heart was in it, they would have found a way. But for me, at that point, my heart wasn’t in it. I feel like if I do something, I’m 100-percent in it. Right now, it feels like it’s time to be 100-percent dad and family man.”
A family man is exactly what St-Louis will get to be. He’ll get to participate in his children’s practices, games and step behind the bench to help out. And, he says, that’s something he’s ready to do because so much of the focus over the past 16 years has been on what he needed to do to stay at the top of his game in the NHL.
“For me, my focus has been my kids after I’m playing," St-Louis said. "So that’s been my thought. I’ve missed out a lot on their games. Not to be able to be at every practice and every game and help them on the ice. I think that’s something that I’ve been looking forward to doing. My whole family has been so supportive and it’s been about me a lot. It’s time for it to be about someone else but me – and that’s my kids.”
St-Louis, who announced his retirement on July 2, said that there were a few moments when he considered returning, however. In his retirement press conference, St-Louis said that when the offers came in, he couldn’t help but think about them.
“I think before July 1, I was maybe 80-20 that I wanted to retire. It was flattering to get offers, but at the same time, when the offers come, you think, ‘If I do go that way, the preparation and everything for it…’ My heart wasn’t in it. I’d rather walk away and move on.”
He added that he hoped he could retire as a New York Ranger and he believed it could have worked to find a way to make him fit back with the Blueshirts had he wanted to play one more year. Though he got his wish to retire a Ranger, it would have been equally fitting, however, had St-Louis, the most legendary Tampa Bay Lightning player in team history, returned back to Florida for his final campaign. It wasn’t to be, but there’s little doubt a jersey retirement is coming for the Lightning.
“Tampa – I feel like that’s where I grew up,” St-Louis said. “I came in trying to make a name for myself. Trying to get a full time job in the league. Trying to be the player I can be. Every year I got better there. It’s like I grew up there. Tampa will always (be) a special place for me.”
Now that he has moved on, the next logical debate will become whether or not he’s a Hall of Fame-worthy player.
Over the course of his 16-year career, St-Louis racked up 391 goals and 1,033 points in 1,134 games, and another 42 goals and 90 points in 107 post-season outings. He has a Stanley Cup, Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Lester B. Pearon Award, three Lady Byng Trophies and multiple first- and second-team all-star nods to his name. With a resume like that, it’s hard to deny St-Louis likely has the credentials for induction. But, while it seems as though St-Louis could be a shoo-in for the honor, he said whether he gets in or not will have no impact on how he views his career.
“Anybody whose played a long time in this league, it’s the ultimate prize, individually,” St-Louis said. “It’s definitely something that would be a big moment for me and my family. It’s not something that’s going to make me look at my career any other way, whether I’m in or not.”