The guy who wanted out of Tampa two years ago will soon be receiving a hero’s welcome — and be the first to have his number retired by the organization.
The Lightning announced on Thursday morning that the No. 26 worn by Martin St. Louis will be hung from the rafters at Amalie Arena in January, when former head coach John Tortorella and his Columbus Blue Jackets come to town.
St. Louis is the Lightning’s all-time leading scorer, having racked up 953 points in 972 games over a 13-year career with Tampa. He’s also the Lightning’s record-holder for most consecutive games played; he appeared in 499 games from 2005-2011, where he played in every regular season and playoff game, according to the team.
“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,” St. Louis said in a press release issued by the Lightning. “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.”
St. Louis, who played NCAA hockey at the University of Vermont, signed with the Lightning as an undrafted free agent in July 31, 2000. He is first in franchise history for the following:
- Points (953)
- Assists (588)
- Short-handed goals (28)
- Game-winning goals (64)
- Hat tricks (8, tie with Steven Stamkos)
- Power-play points (300)
Additionally, he’s second in franchise history in both goals scored (365) and games played (972).
St. Louis played a pivotal role in bringing the Stanley Cup to Tampa in 2003-2004, and won the following accolades that season:
- Art Ross Trophy (NHL point leader)
- Hart Memorial Trophy (league MVP)
- Lester B. Pearson Award (NHLPA’s most outstanding player)
- First-team NHL All-Star
But St. Louis’ move out of Tampa came with controversy as he requested a trade and in stunning fashion, general manager Steve Yzerman shipped captain for captain, sending St. Louis to New York for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan on March 6, 2014 — trade deadline day. The Rangers went on to reach the Stanley Cup Final that season.
St. Louis played a full season with the Rangers the following year before calling it a career on July 3, 2015, after 16 NHL seasons.
The Lightning will honor its former captain on Jan. 13, 2017.
“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,” Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in the release. “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.”