TAMPA -- Martin St. Louis proclaimed he will "always be a Bolt" when the Tampa Bay Lightning retired his No. 26 during a ceremony at Amalie Arena on Friday.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos spoke in honor of St. Louis, who sat in the same folding chair he used when he was on the bench during games. St. Louis was joined on stage by his wife, Heather, and their sons Ryan, Lucas and Mason.
Video: CBJ@TBL: St. Louis gives emotional thanks to mom
Tortorella, the first to speak, quickly let St. Louis' sons in on a secret about their dad.
"Marty was a pain in the [butt] to coach," said Tortorella, who coached the Lightning from 2000-08. "But he was always searching for a better way to do it. Finding a better way beat that team, to beat that opponent, to beat that player."
Bid on warmup and game-worn jerseys from Friday's game
Vinik presented St. Louis with a Ford F-150 truck and said this was "one of the most important days in the franchise."
St. Louis spoke for about 20 minutes and thanked many of his former teammates and other members of the Lightning organization. He looked at former teammate Vincent Lecavalier and said "when I played with you I felt four inches taller" and told all his teammates "we will walk together forever, I truly believe that."
Video: CBJ@TBL: St. Louis' No. 26 hits rafters in Tampa Bay
But St. Louis saved his most poignant words for his mother, France, who died on May 8, 2014.
"There's one person not here tonight who I wish could be here more than anything: my mom," St. Louis said fighting back tears. "I know she is here with us tonight. She always said, 'Show them, Marty, show them.' Well, mom, I think we did."
St. Louis won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. He is the Lightning's all-time leader in points (953), assists (588), shorthanded goals (28), game-winning goals (64) and power-play points (300). His 365 goals are second to Lecavalier's 383. St. Louis won the Hart Trophy in 2004 and the Art Ross Trophy in 2004 and 2013. He was also a three-time Lady Byng Award winner (2010, 2011, 2013).