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Martin St. Louis a Florida Sports Legend

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When thinking of sports legends in the state of Florida, not many people think about hockey players. But the Tampa Bay Lightning has a couple of players who have accomplished a lot in their careers and deserve to be mentioned with guys like Dan Marino, Warren Sapp, Larry Csonka, and Leroy Selmon. One of those is Vincent LeCavalier and the other is Martin St. Louis.

Unlike LeCavalier who is now with the Philadelphia Flyers, the 38 year old St. Louis is still with the Lightning and is still one of their best players. St. Louis has been around for all of Tampa Bay’s best seasons, including this one. He has emerged as the Lightning’s best player now that Steven Stamkos has been out for about six weeks with a broken leg. He is their leading scorer and has huge in keeping them in contention.

St. Louis is another of those guys, like Cameron Wake of the Dolphins, who you cannot help but root for. Like Wake he was overlooked on draft day after his college career at the University of Vermont was over. At 5’ 9” in college, he was considered too small for the NHL. But all he has done is help the Bolts win their only Stanley Cup in 2002 and played in six All-Star games.

In college he was the ECAC Player of the year in 1995 and made the All ECAC team three . Trophy (leading scorer) and the Lady Bing Memorial Trophy (most gentlemanly player). He has also played for Team Canada in the Olympics, The World Cup of Hockey (which Canada won in 2004) and twice at the Hockey World Championships.

St. Louis has been a fixture in Tampa Bay since 2000 which is longer than any other player in any sport in Bay Area history. Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays is locked in until 2020, so he has a chance to be right up there with St. Louis.

He has scored 356 goals and dished out 593 assists in his 1016 games. That means that St. Louis is responsible for a goal in nearly every game he plays over his entire career. In his best season of 2006-07, St. Louis scored 43 goals and had 59 assists. In 2009-10 St. Louis had 65 assists to go with his 29 goals and in 2008-09 he had 30 goals and 50 assists.

In 63 playoff games, St. Louis has 33 goals and 35 assists, proving he comes up big in the biggest games. One such moment was especially sweet when he won Game Six of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals to tie the series 3-3 in overtime against the Calgary Flames. Two season earlier, St. Louis med his NHL debut with the Flames, but they let him go. Two seasons later he made sure they regretted that move after he sent the series back to Tampa Bay for Game Seven, which the Lightning went on to win the Cup.

Perhaps this season, he will have another signature moment to cement his place as one of the greatest NHL players of all time while leading the Lightning to another Stanley Cup Championship. The way his and the team’s season is going so far, it would not be a surprise. The great ones like St. Louis seem to have such signature moments when given the opportunity.

The only negative in the career is that he has spent it in a place where hockey is not all that popular. That is a shame because had he done all this in a place like Toronto or Detroit, he would be even bigger. But hopefully he will be appreciated down in the tropics as one of their greatest sports figures because he surely deserves it.

 

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