In his 10 years in Tampa Bay, Martin St. Louis said he's seen "both sides of the mountain." But after signing a four-year contract extension Thursday, he feels like he's ready to climb back to the top.
St. Louis, who was entering the final season of the six-year contract he signed in 2005, now will be able to retire as a member of the Lightning when this deal expires, following the 2014-15 season. The value of the extension, which will kick in on July 1, 2011, reportedly is $22.5 million.
St. Louis' 94 points were fifth in the League in 2009-10, and he also played a major role in his linemate, Steven Stamkos, tying for the League lead with 51 goals. St. Louis had 29 goals, his sixth consecutive season with at least 20.
At age 34, he played in all 82 games, extending the NHL's fourth-longest active consecutive games-played streak to 390. His 21:48 average ice time per game was third in the League among forwards. St. Louis is second only to Vincent Lecavalier in on the Lightning list in games played (703), goals (263), assists (396) and points (659).
Making sure St. Louis remained in Tampa Bay was a no-brainer for new GM Steve Yzerman.
"Today is a great day for the Lightning organization," Yzerman said. "Marty means so much to this franchise, both on and off the ice. His hard work and dedication are unsurpassed and we are thrilled that he will finish his career here in Tampa Bay."
St. Louis believes he'll be able to finish that career with a flourish. Though the Lightning finished 12th in the Eastern Conference last season, he looks at the talent around him -- Lecavalier and youngsters like Stamkos, Steve Downie and Victor Hedman -- and predicts a quick climb.
"I signed here because I know I'm going to have a chance at winning again," he said. "I'm telling you, we're going to do everything we can to get into the playoffs this year and we should get in. With the guys we have, if we don't get into the playoffs, I'll be disappointed.”
St. Louis had expressed frustration with the direction of the franchise following a third-straight season that ended with the Lightning missing the playoffs, but with Yzerman's hiring, he felt a sea change.
"I think at the time when they hired Yzerman, I felt like ‘this is the guy,’" St. Louis said. "There couldn't have been a better hiring, from his experience as a player, the schooling he went through with Detroit, what he's gone through with Team Canada. He thinks things through. My meetings with him, he didn't promise me we're going to win the Cup in two years, that's not what got me to sign. He has a plan and he's going to follow that plan. He's committed and he's a hard-working guy. If he's committed like he was as a player, there's no question he'll be good at his new job. His plan … I wanted to be part of that."
Having his part in the plan in place before the season started was very important to St. Louis.
"I didn't want to go through this year and possibly be dealt," he said. "I thought it was important for me to go into the season with an extension. This is the team that I'm going to be on, and be on the following years."
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