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Martin St-Louis to become first player in Lightning history to have jersey retired

Martin St-Louis will have his No. 26 retired by Tampa Bay in January 2017, and Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said the timing felt right to honor one of the greatest players in franchise history.

Martin St-Louis is first all-time in scoring for the Tampa Bay Lightning, first in assists, first in game-winning goals, first in shorthanded goals and first in every major post-season scoring category for the franchise. He helped bring the Lightning their first and only Stanley Cup, and he was the first Lightning player to win the Art Ross Trophy and MVP honors — both player- and media-selected.

And with all those firsts, it’s only fitting that St-Louis becomes the first player in Lightning history to have his jersey hung in the rafters.

The Lightning announced Thursday that St-Louis’ No. 26 will be retired by the club on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, and St-Louis said the night will be one that is “extremely special and emotional for my family and me.” 

Over the course of his career in Tampa Bay, St-Louis scored 365 goals, 953 points and suited up 972 games, and he remains arguably the greatest player to ever play for the Lightning. It’s a great honor for St-Louis, no doubt, and one that some may have thought would never happen after St-Louis demanded a trade out of Tampa Bay during the 2013-14 campaign. However, the relationship between he and the team has clearly been repaired.

"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,” St-Louis said in a release. “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.”

Details of what will be included as part of the jersey retirement ceremony have not been released, but with the recent retirements of Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards, it would be no surprise if the Lightning were to bring together their star trio — the group that helped bring Tampa Bay the 2004 Stanley Cup — for St-Louis’ jersey retirement. That would make more sense yet given the Jan. 13 tilt will be against the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose coach, John Tortorella, was the Lightning bench boss for that Cup victory.

"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,” Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in a release. “We look forward to a wonderful retirement ceremony, recognizing him for all that he accomplished as a member of the Lightning."

Vinik added that the organization excited to celebrate St-Louis’ “immense long-term contributions” to both the team and community, and that the timing felt right to retire St-Louis’ No. 26. 

As part of St-Louis’ jersey retirement announcement, the Lightning have created a timeline of his career that highlights the major moments beginning with the 1993-94 season at the University of Vermont. From being passed over by a number of teams to scoring huge goals, including the Game 6 double-overtime winner in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final, the timeline captures the moments that made St-Louis’ career so special.

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