Martin St. Louis fueled by snub, elusive gold
During the 2012-2013 NHL lockout-shortened season, a lot of players struggled to find their rhythm after their normal training camps and preparation routines for the regular season were changed or eliminated. Martin St. Louis was not one of them.
The 38-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning captain and forward had the most points in the NHL last season. At his age, it’s almost unheard of for a player to be improving, but improving might not be the right word for what St. Louis is doing. St. Louis has been one of the most consistent performers in hockey over the past decade, no matter what obstacles were in his way.
“I know as you get older everybody is waiting for you to slow down and everything," St. Louis says. "I try not to look at that and just try to prepare myself every year to be as successful as I can be. If you think young, I think you slow down the process of aging I guess. Being surrounded by young players and some quality people has definitely helped me to keep playing at a high level.”
St. Louis won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and had 25 points in the postseason on the way to the championship. Two years later, he played for Team Canada at the 2006 Olympics, where they failed to receive a medal. Four years after that, St. Louis was still performing at a high level, but despite attending Canada’s Olympic orientation camp, he was left off the team. In 2010, the Canadian team was heading in a new and fresh direction after struggling in 2006. He was a victim of the times.
But St. Louis was producing as successfully as ever around that time. He had 94 points in his 2009-10 season, just eight behind his career high. And the year after, he had 99 points, the second highest total of his career. It wasn’t an easy pill to swallow.
“Obviously it was a disappointment for me to not be on that team," St. Louis says. "I was happy they won, but it was hard to watch.”
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The general manager of the Canadian team in 2010 was Steve Yzerman, the legendary Detroit Red Wings superstar that took his talents to the administrative level after his illustrious playing career. He was part of the group responsible for leaving St. Louis off the roster. And after the Olympics, Yzerman became the GM of St. Louis’ Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We touched on it," St. Louis says of Yzerman's snub. "There is nothing you can say that would make me feel better. But I understood he was put in a situation to make a hard decision. He made some good decisions because they won.”
Yzerman is still the GM of the Canadian team and St. Louis attended orientation camp for the 2014 Games.
“I’m sure he is going to make a decision on what is best for Canada,” St. Louis said of the dynamic of trying out for his NHL GM.
But St. Louis is a major favorite to make the roster. It’s hard to imagine him being left off the team after scoring 60 points in 48 games last season.
“I think I try to give myself the best chance to be on the next team," St. Louis says. "So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I try to push and have them make another hard decision.”
Now that Canada has a gold medal under their belt, they have to find a way to defend it on the bigger international ice where they’ve struggled. So they need dynamic skaters that can produce scoring chances on the wider ice using speed and creativity. And after winning in such dramatic fashion in 2010, they will need even-keeled leaders that can keep the team humble and grounded.
“Looking back when you are older saying you have a gold medal, that is pretty cool,” St. Louis says. “It would mean a lot.”
Embedded video_content_type: Canada wins hockey gold on Sidney Crosby's OT goal