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Catching up with Martin St. Louis

Former Lightning captain enjoying retirement with family, on golf course

by Cutler Klein @CutlerKlein / Staff Writer

This is the first of's "Catching Up With" series, which features notable NHL alumni, including reflections on their careers and lives after hockey.

Martin St. Louis had many titles during his 16-year NHL career, including Tampa Bay Lightning captain, Stanley Cup champion, Hart Trophy winner and Olympic gold medalist.

However, after retiring in July 2015, St. Louis turned full-time to the title he enjoys most: Dad.

The 41-year-old said he felt he had missed out on being a father to his three children during his playing days, so it was the right time to hang up the skates after his first full season with the New York Rangers.

"I had just turned 40, and I was healthy," St. Louis said. "I had played 18 years (including in the American Hockey League prior to his NHL career and in Switzerland during the 2004-05 lockout). I had three boys that were 12, 10 and 7 and were heavy into hockey. I felt it was time to just go spend time with them and be involved. I felt like I had missed a lot. I never expected to play that long. I just felt it was time."

With his playing days behind him, St. Louis is focused on helping the next generation of hockey players by coaching his sons' teams in Connecticut. He admits that the player in him sometimes comes out when he's behind the bench.

"I think, even for their age, I get the chance to analyze the game itself and try to teach them the right thing, depending on the age level I'm coaching," he said. "I try to put the kids in the position for them to be successful."

St. Louis is very happy watching his kids on the ice.

"I love the coaching aspect and the competitiveness," he said. "I've always said I love playing the game, and I think watching my kids play is more fun than actually playing the game myself. That's when I know I've made the right choice."

When he's not coaching his kids, St. Louis spends his time in the gym and on the golf course. But, despite what some of the other gym patrons might think, he's not working for a return to the NHL.

"The funny part is I still work out quite a bit," he said. "People will always see me work out and are probably thinking, 'Is he making a comeback?' I'm still pushing sleds sometimes and I get a really good kick out of it. Rest assured, I'm not coming back. I like to stay in shape. I've been playing a lot of golf and staying busy that way."

St. Louis said his golf game hasn't improved as much as he'd like.

"It's pretty much kids, golf and coaching," he said. "Unfortunately, my handicap is just not going any lower. I don't know why."

St. Louis said the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup team was special not only because of the way it won - rallying from down 3-2 in the Cup Final to defeat the Calgary Flames in seven games -- but also because of the way it was built.

"What I really like about it is that we were pretty young and we weren't a team that was signing high-profile free agents," he said. "I felt that team was totally developed. We added a few key veteran pieces, but by no means were they high-profile free agents. We brought in some quality people to help the leadership, and it paid off."

Perhaps the most iconic moment from the 2004 Cup Final was St. Louis' goal in the second overtime of Game 6. Four years earlier, the Flames bought out St. Louis' contract after his second season with them. The Lightning signed him shortly after.

Video: 2004 Cup Final, Gm6: 2OT goal forces TB-Flames to Gm7

"Any Game 6 double-overtime goal to give you a chance to stay alive I think is special," he said. "I don't think I had any beef with anybody that was left in Calgary because there was nobody left from my era, so people that came in just went in a different direction. Was it a little bit extra special? Maybe. But there was already the magnitude of a Game 6 double overtime that I think trumped the fact that it was against a former team."

St. Louis started his journey to the NHL at the University of Vermont. He played four seasons at Vermont and finished his college career as its all-time leading scorer. In January, the school retired his No. 8 jersey, making it the first in program history.

Two years from being eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, St. Louis said he has thought about the honor. The 2004 Hart Trophy winner had 391 goals, 642 assists and 1,033 points in 1,134 regular-season games with the Flames, Lightning and Rangers, won the Art Ross Trophy twice (2004, 2013) and the Lady Byng Trophy three times (2010, 2011, 2013), and is Tampa Bay's all-time leader in assists (588) and points (953).

St. Louis would not campaign for his own HHOF selection but said he does believe Dave Andreychuk, captain of the 2004 Cup team, should get in.

"Obviously, it's the ultimate award for a player to be recognized," he said. "I would hope and think that Dave will be there someday. In my mind, he is a Hall of Famer.

"For me to say I'm a Hall of Famer is not my position. It won't change how I feel about my career. It's the people's opinion, and hopefully the people in charge have a right opinion of me. If not, there's nothing I can do about that. It's not going to change how I see myself in my career, but it would be a huge honor."

Part of St. Louis' legacy in the NHL is his size. At 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, he was small compared to big-bodied, physical players in what he called the "Lindros era," referring to 2016 Hall of Famer Eric Lindros (6-4,240). Smaller players like Patrick Kane (5-11, 177 pounds), Mats Zuccarello (5-7, 179) and Johnny Gaudreau (5-9, 157) have since excelled in the League.

St. Louis said he is not a pioneer in that regard but his career helped other small players get a fair chance.

"I'd like to say I had something to do with it," St. Louis said. "I don't think I'm the first guy that opened the door, but I helped the cause for shorter players to play in the League and have a career. I had shorter players that were my idols growing up, and when I see small players and they come and talk to me and they have me in their mind as the player to look up to, and that's nice. It's the wheel that keeps turning. There's going to be little young players now looking up to the Zuccarellos and Kanes, so that's the great thing about the game."

St. Louis said he thinks his legacy can be summed up in one word: resilience.

"I can honestly say I've never had that many people say I didn't work hard," St. Louis said. "I felt that's my resiliency that got me into the League and got me to be able to play at the level I did and kept me at that level for a long time. Whether it was on the ice, off the ice, I always felt I worked extra hard, and I think the fans could see that and appreciate that."

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