Dan Boyle signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent, which means not only does Martin St. Louis get to reunite with a former teammate who can fill a void on defense, it gives his dad, Normand, a needed bit of friendship too.
"[Dan's] parents are really close to my parents," Martin St. Louis told Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com in a lengthy interview published Thursday. "I think my dad was really excited to have some close friends come on the team, I guess. Obviously with what he's gone through, I think that's going to help him tremendously this next year to have these close friends to him close.
"All in all, I think it's a really exciting time."
Martin's mom and Normand's wife, France, died at age 63 on May 8, during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Her funeral was held May 18, the day between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.
It was part of a tumultuous couple of months for Martin St. Louis. On Feb. 6 he was added to the Canada team that eventually won gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after initially being left off the roster. On March 5 he was traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning, for whom he had played 13 seasons. It took him until April 1, 15 games, to score a goal for the Rangers.
They reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs, won two Game 7s and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games, with three losses, including the clincher June 13, decided in overtime.
"Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time," St. Louis said. "At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there."
One of the unforgettable moments of last season was Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.
Played on Mother's Day, three days after losing his mother, with his father and sister, Isabelle, in the crowd, St. Louis scored 3:34 into the first period, helping the Rangers avoid elimination with a 3-1 win.
"It definitely brought me closer to the fans," St. Louis said. "I definitely felt their support. I felt their love. That Mother's Day, it was an emotional time, and I think not only did it bring me closer to my teammates but I think it brought me a lot to the fans too.
"At the end of the day this is a sport we're playing. We're all human, we have emotions. People go through adversity and you don't like to see people go through stuff like that. I think when you feel for them and you want to pick them up, I think that's human nature, you want to help people around you. And I definitely felt the help from the fans with the support I got, and obviously from my teammates and the organization.
"That Mother's Day win was a special one and it's something I'll remember forever."
The Rangers defeated the Penguins in Game 7 to advance and then eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in six games before facing the Kings.
The summer has allowed St. Louis to come to terms with the loss of his mother in a way he could not during the season.
"Obviously it was a little tough situation on my end with my mom," St. Louis said. "Once everything settled it really started to sink in. ... I think everybody's coming around and we're looking forward to create some more memories, even better memories, going into next year."
He will play his first full season in New York with Boyle as a teammate, as they were for six seasons in Tampa Bay.
"When you have him on your team, you appreciate him, what he does," St. Louis said. "... I'm really looking forward to get to work with him again."
The two undrafted free agents, now in their late 30s, won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and will try for another.
"My motivation is to win," St. Louis said. "To be able to win on an Original Six team, here in New York, it would be a great ending of my career."
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