There isn't much that bothers Martin St. Louis
Maybe that's because he lives by the maxim -- one he preaches to his three sons -- "You get out of life what you put in."
As one of the National Hockey League's star players, St. Louis is confident in life's returns, because he always has "put in" more than the next player.
"I have to have a solid work ethic and the attitude of, 'I'll show you,'" he told NHL.com.
St. Louis' story has become a familiar one by now. Despite being a Hobey Baker Award finalist three times during an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Vermont, the 5-foot-8 forward went unselected in the annual Entry Draft. He signed as a free agent with Calgary and played 13 games for the Flames in the 1998-99 season after spending most of his two seasons with the organization in the American Hockey League. The following season, St. Louis dressed in 56 games for Calgary, but was released from the club shortly after Craig Button took over as general manager in June 2000.
"I have to have a solid work ethic and the attitude of, 'I'll show you,'"
-- Martin St. Louis
The Tampa Bay Lightning
signed St. Louis, and more than a decade later, he has a Stanley Cup championship, a Hart Trophy, an Art Ross
Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award, two Lady Byng Trophies (out of six nominations) and six All-Star Game appearances -- along with the respect of the entire League.
As for team expectations, many in the hockey world feel the Lightning have a target on their back after a tremendous postseason run that saw them reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While St. Louis acknowledged that other teams might have the Lightning on their radars now (if they didn't already), he feels the team's outlook is no different than it ever has been.
"I think expectations have always been high. Are they higher? I don't know. Our goal is to win the Cup," he said. "I do think people will be a little more cautious about us and more prepared for us. We will just go about our business and try to make it one series further."
The 36-year-old is as durable as he is focused. This will be St. Louis' 11th season in Tampa Bays, and in his first 10 seasons he missed a total of 35 regular-season games, 29 of them in the 2001-02 season because of a broken leg. He hasn't missed a game in five seasons, and has played all 82 in seven of the last eight seasons.
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"Do you play through some injuries? Absolutely, you have to. Ninety-five percent of the League does," St. Louis said. "There's no way you can play 82 games without going through some stuff. I take pride in it, but it's not just about playing for the sake of playing. You want to play and be a factor and make a difference, and I especially take pride in that."
For all the minutes St. Louis logs on the ice, the amount of minutes he spends in the penalty box is astonishingly low. He had 12 penalty minutes last season, the same number as in 2009-10.
His explanation for not racking up penalty minutes is simple: "I think I just try to push it to the limit without getting caught."
A good defensive player doesn't have to take too many penalties. Therefore, St. Louis -- who led the Lightning in takeaways last season -- also acknowledges "good positioning" as a reason why he rarely is sent to the sin bin.
However, when looking at St. Louis' stats, it's the offensive numbers that explode off the page. He finished last season second in the League in assists (68) and points (99), and he had the second-highest point total of his career. He's raised his point total each of the last three seasons. However, he's quick to share the praise with those around him.
"It's a nice situation in Tampa, I have some great players who I play with and a terrific coaching staff," he said.
One of those players is Steven Stamkos
, who -- maybe not so coincidentally -- has had three exceptional seasons in Tampa Bay to begin his career. While many in the hockey world have talked about how good it is for Stamkos to play alongside St. Louis, the veteran knows the relationship is mutually beneficial.
"Stammer's a really good player. He's helped my career," St. Louis said. "It's not one-way; he's helped me out, too. We just do the things we are good at and complement each other."
For someone who clearly has succeeded in proving his worth time and time again, St. Louis still remains humble.
"When you work so hard and do things a certain way for so long, it just becomes ingrained in you," St. Louis said. "If you don't play that way, you don't feel like yourself. I keep raising the bar, and I have to keep meeting the expectations."