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Like His Career, St. Louis Makes Another ‘Back Door Entrance’ To Sochi

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

Less than 24 hours after news broke that the Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos would not be joining Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Martin St. Louis received a call.

And not just any call, one from Lightning vice president and general manager, Steve Yzerman, who is also serving as the executive director for the Canadian men's ice hockey team.

"To get that call - I had heard from Stamkos that he was a no-go – I knew there was a possibility," St. Louis said.

"I think if you asked Stamkos if anyone could replace him, I know he'd want me, so I'm going to go over there and try to play the best I can. I'm just happy I'm getting the opportunity."

Initially on the outside looking in to the Winter Games, St. Louis admitted he was bitter.

"It was tough to be left off," he said. "I was just trying to move past it."

He then reverted to the ice as his form of therapy.

On January 7, the day Canada's roster was announced, he scored two goals. It was also the beginning of a season-best 10-game point streak.

In the 14 games since Jan. 7, St. Louis also tallied 16 points (eight goals, eight assists).

St. Louis also scored four goals in one game for the first time in his career and surpassed 600 assists in his career.

Asked if an added motivation played a factor in his success, St. Louis vowed that motivation is something that he has carried with him for years, not just in the month of January.

"Production-wise I produced quite a bit after, but I've been motivated for the past four years…the past 10 years," St. Louis said. "You have to believe in yourself and you have to be motivated to even be considered."

Now, in light of Bolts' teammate Stamkos not being cleared to play in time, he is an Olympian once more.

"You look at the right wings that are available right now and Marty's got to be at the top of the list," head coach Jon Cooper. "It was him in my book and obviously in Team Canada's."

"I think everyone in our locker room can attest to the fact that he probably deserved to be on that team since Day 1," Stamkos said.

Yet the story to Sochi is familiar.

"How I came into this league, it was kind of a back door entrance and it's kind of the same thing here," St. Louis said. "At the end of the day you don't really care how you get there, that's my mentality. I'm there and I'm going to make the best of it."

He feels this year will be the best opportunity to do just that. Last appearing in the Winter Games in 2006, St. Louis believes he is better prepared the second time around.

And though frustration may have filled his head after Canada's announcement one month ago, there was never any doubt from his teammates, family and fans.

"I try to play the game the way I know how to play," St. Louis said. "And if I impress people along the way that's great. It definitely felt warm to hear the support I was getting."

St. Louis, who heads to Russia on Sunday, said that going to the Olympics is not just about his career, but his family. He is looking forward to having his children see their dad on the world stage.

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