You'd never have expected it: St. Louis' 300th Lightning goal
It was tedious just to find the summer 2000 date when free-agent right wing Martin St. Louis signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, for what was the NHL league-minimum at the time ($262,000 per season).
The July 31st, 2000 signing (grouped with signings of Steve Martins and Brian Holzinger) wasn't breaking news on the St. Petersburg Times website. That was the 2000 Major League Baseball trade deadline dealings of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp also dominated the headlines of the day with different football fodder. Oh, and Dennis Miller premiering on Monday Night Football was noteworthy too.
Of course, 2000 was a very different time for Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. The Bolts were only set to begin Year Two of a five-year rebuilding effort. The team hadn't managed more than 20 wins since 1996-97.
Lest I forget, Internet reporting also wasn't as immediate as you now know it.
But even the August 1st, 2000 article about the trio of players signed by Rick Dudley was almost dismissive of free-agent St. Louis being brought in from the Calgary Flames. There was plenty to go on with Holzinger and Martins. The St. Louis news took up two short paragraphs of a larger article that noted RFA issues that were being worked out between the Bolts and the likes of Pavel Kubina and Kaspars Astashenko.
11 years ago, if you read the article announcing the news, you never would have expected what has come from Marty in his time with the Lightning: 300 goals (with #300 being tallied Saturday night against the Panthers), 457 assists, 757 points, two Hart Trophy nominations, one Hart Trophy win, an Art Ross Trophy, two Lady Byng awards and too-many previous nominations for the Most Gentlemanly Player award (seriously, Marty? Fight somebody).
And his name on Lord Stanley's Cup.
Marty is now 3 points shy of 800 for his career, his consecutive-games-played streak is at 493 as of this writing.
300 goals scored by St. Louis, who didn't know if he'd survive 300 shifts with the Lightning when he signed, is an amazing feat to accomplish. We - St. Louis, Lightning fans, and the NHL as a whole - never saw it coming.