This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
Tampa Bay Lightning
1. Martin St. Louis (820)
2. Steven Stamkos (399)
3. Dave Andreychuk (185)
4. Vincent Lecavalier (166)
The Lightning drafted two high-profile centers first overall (Stamkos and Lecavalier) and employed a different player who won a Conn Smythe Trophy (Brad Richards), yet fans voted undrafted forward Martin St. Louis as the greatest Lightning player ever.
It would be interesting to see how differently fans might vote after, say, five more years of Stamkos* … but right now, St. Louis is an easy choice even after his painful trade-related divorce from last season.
In 13 seasons with the team, St. Louis scored 953 points in 972 regular season games (a franchise record), scored 68 points in 63 postseason contests (another franchise record) while collecting one Hart and two Art Ross trophies. He was a huge part of the team’s lone Stanley Cup victory and also helped the Bolts come within one win of a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2011.
Beyond that, St. Louis was a consistent performer in a franchise that seemed to experience lows that were just as dramatic as the peak moments (and more bleak than bright ones in that). The 39-year-old seems likely to get booed the next time he plays in Tampa Bay, yet it is a virtual certainty that his No. 26 will be raised to the rafters one day.
* – If Stamkos is around for the long haul. of course.