Thursday, July 2, 2015

Martin Saint-Louis Jersey Card

When all is said and done, I will not be surprised to see Martin Saint-Louis inducted in the Hockey Hall Of Fame: over 1,000 games played, over 1,000 points, a Stanley Cup, two Art Ross trophies won nine years apart, a Hart (plus one Hart nomination), a Lester B. Pearson, three Lady Byngs (and seven times the runner-up), one First All-Star Team and four Second All-Star Team nods, plus a World Cup (2004) and Olympic gold (2014) with Team Canada to go with two World Championship silver medals (2008 and 2009).

All this from an undrafted 5'8'' player from the Montréal suburb of Laval who played his last stint as an amateur at the University of Vermont rather than in the LHJMQ, almost nullifying his chances of ever reaching the NHL.

Except he rewrote the University of Vermont Catamounts' record books, earning an invitation to the Calgary Flames' training camp, and though the team eventually lost him to waivers, he was picked up by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team he would mostly be associated with, won the Cup with, and captained in his final season there.

With four 90-point seasons (with a high of 102 in 2006-07), seven 30-goal seasons (with a high of 43) and twice the league assists leader (ironically, he led he league in assists with 56 in 2003-04 but surpassed that mark four times without leading the league), he was the face of Tampa's franchise, bridging the gap from Vincent Lecavalier to Steven Stamkos, the team's two first-overall goal scoring superstars.

Sure, he asked for a trade to the New York Rangers when team GM Steve Yzerman initially left him off of Canada's Olympic roster, but he'll always be a Bolt in most people's hearts. And though Ryan Callahan will end up playing longer, the Rangers surely do not regret that trade of captains, as Callahan had priced himself out of the Rangers' budget, and St-Louis was around for two seasons, playing a leadership role on a team that went to a Stanley Cup Final and an Eastern Conference Final.

And even though he tested free agency (and probably only got offers from teams who were too far away from his family in Connecticut), he changed his stance today and opted to retire. His 52 points in 70 games in his final season, at age 39, were more than decent, but many had criticized his playoff production, which, at 7 points in 19 games, brought his career average below the point-per-game mark, finishing with 42 goals and 90 points in 107 postseason games.

In tribute of the diminutive superstar's career, I feature him for the first of three times with this card showing him captaining the Bolts, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Series 2 set (card #GJ-SL of the UD Game Jersey sub-set):
It shows him wearing the Lightning's white (away) uniform and includes a black game-worn swatch, from their older jerseys.

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