In case you haven’t noticed, I am rather fond of writing about things well after they have happened and have started collecting dust. This post is no different, since Marty St. Louis’ jersey number was retired at least two weeks ago. (Are you blankly staring at your screen, wondering who the heck Marty St. Louis is? If so, I can’t believe we’re friends, but all the same, I will fill you in: he was a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey player for years and years, and one of my favorite players.)
I must admit, I knew his number was being retired that night, but I forgot to turn the TV on. What can I say? The kids were there, we were getting dinner ready, and someone turned a movie on, so I forgot all about it. Luckily I found the entire ceremony on YouTube later.
As a fellow short person, I liked Marty because he is small by hockey standards (5’8″, when a lot of players are well over 6 feet tall). By comparison, the Lightning goalie, Ben Bishop, is 6’7″. It took a lot of guts to step onto the ice with players that much bigger than him, but he did far more than just get by out there. Marty won numerous awards, from the Art Ross trophy (twice), to the Hart Memorial Trophy, to the Lester B. Pearson Award. He played on All-Star teams and was part of the Stanley Cup winning team in 2004 (ahhh, memories!)
I didn’t like the way St. Louis left the team, requesting a transfer after he was left off the Olympic team in 2014. Obviously I wasn’t there and wasn’t part of those discussions, but it seemed to me like Marty pitched a jealous fit when Steven Stamkos was placed on the Olympic team and he wasn’t. As much as I like Marty, my attitude about it was, if you don’t like it, then play better than Stamkos.
Marty left the Lightning for the New York Rangers, but I can’t help but still think of him as a Lightning player. The entire jersey number retirement ceremony was well-orchestrated and thoughtful, and I admit my eyes weren’t exactly bone dry when Marty talked about his late mother (especially when the camera flashed over to his father, who had to take his glasses off to dab at his eyes). I laughed when Marty said his mother only knew he had scored because they would play the song “Louie, Louie”.
I didn’t care for the people who booed when the NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, came to the podium to speak. How classless can those people be? The night wasn’t about their personal opinions of the NHL commissioner. It was about Marty. It was shameful that anyone booed. Write a letter after the ceremony if you don’t like the guy, but shut the hell up until then.
Marty’s jersey number was the first one ever retired from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it seems fitting. He was on the team a long time, from the years the team was considered a bit of a joke (okay, a lot of a joke), all the way to the Stanley Cup champions and beyond.
My office boasts a framed picture of Marty St. Louis in his Tampa Bay Lightning uniform, and I didn’t take it down even when he transferred to the Rangers. I don’t suppose I will take it now, either, retired or not, because to me, he will always be a Lightning guy.
For the record, though, and just some trivia to impress your easily-amused friends: Marty St. Louis is not the shortest NHL player who has ever played. That honor goes to a goaltender named Roy Woters, who stood at a massive 5’3″ and played 12 seasons in the NHL, from 1925 to 1937.
So there’s hope for me yet to be a hockey player, eh?