Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis did not need to attend the 2012 NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas last month in order to bring home some hardware this summer.
Rather, St. Louis returned to his alma mater at the University of Vermont on Monday to receive his school’s Alumni Achievement Award, which since 1985 has been given to individuals deemed to show “outstanding achievement that has been recognized at the local, state and or national level.”
“It means a lot to me,” St. Louis said. “There are so many people that really paved the way for me here. It was here where I understood what it was to play hockey, but to also be the best human being I could be.”
St. Louis, who starred for the Catamounts from 1993 to 1997 and led Vermont to its first Frozen Four appearance in 1996, was given the award by university president Tom Sullivan at the school’s annual golf classic held at Vermont National Country Club.
“He represents so much that has been great in athletics at this university,” Sullivan said. “We’d like to salute Marty, first and foremost.”
St. Louis, set to enter his 14th season in the NHL in 2012-13, was beyond deserving.
During his career as a Catamount, St. Louis was a three-time first team All-American and a three-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as national men's hockey player of the year. He concluded his collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in points and was the 1997 recipient of the J. Edward Donnelly Award as UVM's top male senior athlete.
He finished with a school-record 267 career points, second all-time in ECAC history, and is UVM's leader in assists with 176 and is third in goals with 91.
That success then carried over into the NHL, where St. Louis led the league in scoring in 2003-04 with 94 points on his way to helping the Bolts capture their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Following that same season he won both the Hart Memorial Trophy, as the most valuable player to his team, and the Lester B. Pearson Award, as the league MVP voted on by his peers. He became the first player since Wayne Gretzky and only the eighth in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy, the Stanley Cup, and the Hart Memorial Trophy all in one season.
In 2006-07, St. Louis recorded a personal-best of 102 points and followed it up with a 99-point campaign during the 2010-11 season when he and the Lightning came just one game shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in franchise history.
During Monday’s ceremony, St. Louis credited much of that success to his trio of coaches at the school, who he said served as role models on and off the ice that helped him realize his dream of playing in the NHL was possible.
He even had a little fun during the acceptance speech with long-time friend and former Catamounts teammate Tim Thomas, who was the recipient of the same award last year, in 2011.
“I was a little disappointed that Tim Thomas beat me to it,” St. Louis joked.
That, of course, was said in jest, but when the conversation turned back to receiving the award, there was no questioning St. Louis’ sincerity in being this year’s honoree.
“I want to thank everyone again,” he said. “When I came here [as a freshman] I never would have expected to get what I got out of my experience here. My four years here were truly unbelievable.”