On Turkey Eve, Martin St. Louis returns to Tampa

A Louis Louis Louis: Martin St. Louis celebrates one of two goals on a memorable night.  The Canadian Press

A Louis Louis Louis: Former Lightning Martin St. Louis celebrates one of two goals on a memorable night one year ago today.
The Canadian Press

Tonight, there will be plenty of emotion for Marty St. Louis who returns to Tampa for the first time since the big trade last March. The former Hart winner who led the Lightning to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup spent 14 years in the Sunshine State before turning heel by requesting a trade to the Rangers. To this day, most observers point to his omission from Canada. Getting passed over by general manager Steve Yzerman hurt his pride.

Whatever the case, the first captain for captain deadline deal saw St. Louis move to Broadway for Ryan Callahan, who drew criticism for his contract demands. As he indicated in a successful MSG return highlighted by two goals in a 5-1 Lightning win, it really boiled down to the no-trade clause. He wound up taking less to stay with Tampa due to getting the NTC until the final couple of years of the contract.

If Nov. 17 was all about Callahan plus former Blueshirts Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman, all the attention will be on St. Louis. In 972 total games with Tampa, he tallied 365 goals and 588 assists for 953 points. That included a memorable 94 points (38-56-94) to win the Hart in ’03-04. He followed it up by notching nine goals and 15 assists in the playoffs- teaming with Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier to win the Cup. No moment was bigger than his goal in double overtime at Calgary that sent the series back to Tampa for Game 7. Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice in Game 7 highlighting the Bolts’ only Cup.

Ironically, St. Louis’ return comes exactly a year later when he torched the Rangers for two goals and an assist in a 5-0 Lightning win. That night, he was honored by the franchise for reaching 1,000 points. In typical fashion, he put on a show. Fast forward a year later and he’s already become a fan favorite with his new team. It was during the postseason where the Rangers came together by rallying from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Pens in the second round following the death of St. Louis’ Mom. No moment was more special than St. Louis scoring this goal on Mother’s Day in Game 6. In their run to the Stanley Cup Final, St. Louis had eight goals and seven assists. That included a huge sudden death goal to beat the Canadiens in Game 4 at MSG. The Rangers took the series in six.

After a slow start, he’s been on fire. St. Louis enters tonight with four goals in his last six games. Dating back to Nov. 3, he has 11 points (7-4-11) over the last 10. For the season, he ranks second in team scoring with 17 points (8-9-17). In a lopsided 5-1 loss against his former team, he scored the lone goal but went minus-four. That one stung leading to some strong criticism from St. Louis who wondered how his team could live with the effort they gave. Figure them to be ready from the drop of the puck. It would be fitting if St. Louis scored and led the Rangers to a win. That’s the kind of player he is.

I’m sure he’ll get booed more than Callahan. However, you have to figure the Lightning fans will cheer loudly when they show a video. But once that drama ends, he’ll hear it. It should be quite the appetizer on Turkey Eve. Unfortunately, I won’t be around to see it. But I should catch the ending and replay.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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