The Tampa Bay Lightning will pay tribute to Martin St-Louis Friday night with a jersey retirement ceremony, making him the first player to receive the honor in franchise history.
It’s a fitting honor, too, because St-Louis will almost certainly go down as one of the greatest players to play at the tail-end of the clutch-and-grab era and one of the more impressive talents the league had as the game opened up and speed and skill were the dominant forces.
While a member of the Lightning, St-Louis captured two Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer, three Lady Byng’s as the most gentlemanly player in the game and was crowned the league MVP by both the press and the players for his fantastic 2003-04 campaign. St-Louis’ remains the greatest scorer in franchise history, and his impact on the Lightning will likely never be forgotten.
Here are the five greatest moments from St-Louis’ time in Tampa Bay:
5. Passes Lecavalier for good on all-time scoring list
St-Louis was part of Tampa Bay Lightning lore well before he became the franchise’s most decorated scorer, but the moment that he took the scoring lead for good and never let it go came during the 2012-13 campaign.
When the season began, St-Louis was 10 points back of Vincent Lecavalier on the Lightning’s all-time scoring lead, but the diminutive winger picked away at Lecavalier’s point lead before finally squeaking past him for good on March 7, 2013 against the Winnipeg Jets.
4. Four-goal night highlighted by natural hat trick
For the tremendous goal scoring ability that St-Louis possessed, one might think he had a number of big goal scoring nights to his name. While he did score eight hat tricks throughout his career, the last time he completed the feat was the most impressive of his career.
Almost everything was going in for St-Louis during the Jan. 18, 2014 meeting with the San Jose Sharks. He scored the Lightning’s first goal of the game, then their second, third and fourth goals over a period of less than seven minutes across the end of the first period and into the second.
Unfortunately, Joe Pavelski fired back with a natural hat trick of his own to give the Sharks the win.
3. Sparking Lightning Stanley Cup run with series winner in OT
Almost every Stanley Cup run has the one moment that you can pinpoint that started the miraculous chase for a championship, and while the Lightning were absolutely favored to down the eighth-ranked New York Islanders, the excitement necessary for a big run came when St-Louis put Tampa Bay through to the second round with his first of two huge overtime goals in the post-season.
It’s probably a shot Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro could have stopped, but the booming slap shot sent New York packing and Tampa Bay marching towards the Stanley Cup.
2. Overtime winner gives Lightning first playoff series victory
Maybe the Lightning should have known they’d have their franchise’s overtime hero on their hands when he was the architect of the team’s first ever series win with a spinning overtime goal in Game 6 of the Lightning’s 2003 first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals.
There are few moments bigger for a franchise than winning their first playoff series, because it’s an indication that things are really starting to move in the right direction. For the Lightning, that was exactly the case. The 2003 playoff run was stopped short in five games by the New Jersey Devils in the second round, but Tampa Bay would use their post-season experience to their advantage the next season.
1. Double OT-winner forces Game 7 in Stanley Cup final
This goal has to go down as the biggest of St-Louis’ career. While he had netted two playoff overtime winners in his career before Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final, it was his marker 30 seconds into the second overtime of a potentially series-deciding game against the Calgary Flames that opened the door for the Lightning to capture the Cup.
Two nights later, the Lightning downed the Flames in front of a hometown crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum on two goals by Ruslan Fedotenko. It remains the only Stanley Cup in franchise history for the Lightning.