New York Rangers winger Martin St. Louis received a well-deserved honor, on February 11 at the Samson arena, where he took his first shots in organized hockey. The Laval Delta hockey club retired his jersey number 26 in recognition of his distinguished career in the National Hockey League (NHL) and civic engagement.
More than 380 people attended the ceremony where they presented a video montage of Martin ‘s career, from novice to the National Hockey League (NHL). You could hear the fans chanting his name as be moved through his masterly feints.
This honorary evening allowed Martin to delve back into old memories. “It is in this small arena in the Sainte-Dorothée district that it all started for me. The honor that Delta and Laval bestows on me is heartwarming because my roots are here. ”
“I have fond memories of the Samson Arena and hours spent on my skates at outdoor Couvrette and Florent parks rinks. I remember I used to call my mother when the game was over at Florent to come and take me to Couvrette “he said.
“I was barely six years old when I joined Delta and I remember saying to my father that I was already very good. He reprimanded me on the edge of the bay window, reminding me not to talk that way ” St. Louis, however, had good reason.
From his beginnings in minor hockey, it was by far the best player on the ice, despite his small size. St. Louis rose through the ranks of minor hockey wearing the Deltas team colors, up to the atom level. He then sported the Senators uniform, Laval’s elite team before playing with the Regents of Laval-Laurentides-Lanaudière (Midget AAA). He finished first in the standings and won the Sylvain-Turgeon trophy with a record of 29 goals and 74 assists for a cumulative 103 points.
“Martin St. Louis is a source of pride and inspiration for all young Laval hockey players. Once raised to the rafters at the Samson arena, his jersey number 26 will become the symbol of tenacity and accomplishment. No player will wear this number from now on, from novice to junior levels, in the Delta organization in honor of Martin, “said Christian Le Bouc, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Delta.
In 1134 games in the NHL, St. Louis has accumulated 391 goals and 642 aids for 1033 points. He also obtained a lot of success in the series with 90 points in 107 games.
For 16 NHL seasons, St. Louis defied the odds as an undersized, undrafted winger. His career that began with the Calgary Flames in 1998 and ended with the New York Rangers in 2015. St. Louis also played for the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2000 until being traded to the Rangers in 2014, and briefly with HC Lausanne of the Swiss National League A. He was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning 2004 Stanley Cup championship team.
St. Louis was a standout player in college for the Vermont Catamounts, earning East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) all-star honours for three consecutive seasons between 1995 and 1997. He was the ECAC player of the year in 1995. On January 8, 2016 the University of Vermont retired his jersey number 8 at Gutterson Fieldhouse in front of a sold out crowd.
A professional career that spans from 1997 to 2015, St. Louis has been named to an NHL All-Star Team on five occasions and played in six All-Star Games. He was voted the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award and Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player as chosen by the players and league respectively in 2003–04, also winning his first Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer with 94 points. St. Louis has on three occasions won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player. In 2013, at age 37, he won his second Art Ross Trophy, becoming the oldest player to ever lead the league in scoring. He has also led the NHL in assists in two different seasons (2003–04 and 2012–13).
Internationally, St. Louis has played with Team Canada on several occasions. He was a member of the team that won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and is a two-time silver medalist at the World Championships; he was named a tournament all-star after leading the 2009 event in scoring with 15 points. A two-time Olympian, St. Louis was a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2014 Winter Games.
St. Louis became one of the most prolific scorers in the past two decades. On July 2, 2015 the 40-year-old announced his retirement after a career he called an “amazing ride.”
“I have dedicated my life to being the best player I could be and now want to turn more of my focus to my three boys,” St. Louis said in a statement when he announced his retirement last July. “I look forward to this next chapter of my life and the time I will have with my family.”
Since his retirement, Martin runs the hockey teams of his sons Ryan (12), Lucas (10 years) and Mason (8 years), in Connecticut where he lives. He will now be off to Quebec City where he will try to lead his son’s team the Rangers MidFairfield to top honors at the 57th International Tournament Peewee Quebec which runs until February 21st. Martin retains fond memories of when he played in the same pee-wee tournament and is eager to relive the unique atmosphere of this major tournament and visit the new Centre Vidéotron.