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Travel travails no match for St. Louis' dedication

Saturday, 01.24.2009 / 6:59 PM / 2009 NHL All-Star Game

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

MONTREAL -- Neither rain, sleet nor passport was going to keep Tampa Bay Lighting wing Martin St. Louis from participating in the 57th NHL All-Star Game in his hometown at Bell Centre.

When St. Louis' 1-year-old son, Mason, was denied access on a flight from Tampa to Montreal earlier in the day, the 33-year-old native of the Montreal suburb of Laval was forced to revise his travel itinerary.

"Yeah, I feel like I just came out of 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles,'" St. Louis told NHL.com. "We had a birth certificate for my youngest son, but didn't have a passport and the Transportation Security Administration turned him away and didn't allow him on the plane. My wife and I really didn't think much of it because we've done it in the past, but not this time."

So St. Louis, his wife, and three children flew to Burlington, Vt., were picked up at the airport and finally driven to Montreal.

"We arrived in Montreal at around 2 p.m., I took a nap and then came here (4 p.m.) to check my gear in," St. Louis said. "My wife (Heather) really kept it together, but I was in a panic the whole time."

Once in Bell Centre, St. Louis, who admitted he'll also participate in the Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge, felt right at home.

"I didn't want to miss out on this for anything, this is an historic time in Canadiens history and I wanted to be here," St. Louis said. "Obviously, growing up around here and watching the Canadiens win those Stanley Cups and to be a part of something like this, is really special. I've dressed in this room before during the World Cup, but it never grows old. This is a pretty special place."

St. Louis, whose parents and sister will be cheering him on this weekend, grew up idolizing Mats Naslund. Naslund ranks 11th on the team's all-time scoring list with 612 points in 617 regular season games.

"I always wanted to be like Mats because we're about the same size," St. Louis grinned. "He's feisty and that's how I wanted to play."

On Thursday, St. Louis was informed he'd be making his fifth consecutive All-Star Game appearance when it was learned that Eastern Conference starter and leading vote-getter Sidney Crosby would be sidelined with a knee injury.

His feistiness in Tampa Bay has obviously been a big reason for the team's recent success.

St. Louis was emotionally charged in the dressing room after his team suffered its 12th loss in 13 games on Dec. 20. He called out his teammates following the 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, upset that not enough players cared about winning and called some "clock killers."

It wasn't anything premeditated, but simply a spontaneous reaction from the team's alternate captain. He knew once his comments were made public, he would have to back up his statements.

"He shook some people up," coach Rick Tocchet said. "We needed to rattle some cages. Marty has definitely backed it up."

Was there ever any doubt he would?

The Lighting went 9-5-1 over their next 15 games and St. Louis was a big reason -- posting 5 goals and 19 points since Dec. 27. He leads the team with 46 points (17 goals) and a plus-11 rating through 47 games for the Lightning.

St. Louis and Lecavalier rank among the top three in five categories for the Lightning, including games played, goals, assists, game-winning goals and shorthanded goals. St. Louis is tops in franchise history in shorthanded goals with 27, including 2 this season.

"It'll be a lot of fun to play with Vinny once again in the All-Star Game," St. Louis said. "Whenever you come to the All-Star Game with a teammate and a guy you've played with your whole career, it's always fun."

St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champ, the player-voted Lester Pearson Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy as League MVP in 2004 while helping lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup.

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.