One of the greatest diminutive players in NHL history is walking away.
Martin St. Louis, the 2004 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP, announced his retirement on Thursday after 16 seasons.
“I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” St. Louis, 40, said in a statement. “I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years.
“I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.”
Undrafted out of the University of Vermont, St. Louis bounced around the IHL and AHL before making his NHL debut with Calgary during the ’98-99 campaign. He wouldn’t become a star, though, until the Flames cut him loose and he signed on in Tampa Bay.
During his 13 years with the Lightning, St. Louis emerged as one of the best and most iconic players in franchise history, cementing himself in Bolts lore during the 2003-04 campaign. That year, he led the team to its first and only Stanley Cup, topped the NHL in points (94) and took home a bounty of hardware by winning the Hart, Art Ross and Lester B. Pearson trophies.
Though his divorce from Tampa Bay was messy — he demanded a trade at the ’14 deadline, and was acrimoniously shipped off to the Rangers — St. Louis carved himself a new chapter in New York, helping the Blueshirts advance to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with the team.
This year, he and the Rangers made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final before losing to his old Lightning mates.
All told, St. Louis was named to seven All-Star Games, earning All-NHL Second Team honors four times and All-NHL First Team honors once. His 1,033 career points are 70th all-time in league history.
“I have had the good fortune of working with some incredible players and trainers throughout my career who I am grateful to also call good friends,” St. Louis said. “I am also thankful to all of the fans who have supported me through the years; it has meant so much to me. I have dedicated my life to being the best player I could be and now want to turn more of my focus to my three boys.
“I look forward to this next chapter of my life and the time I will have with my family.”