No hard feelings: Bolts to retire Martin St. Louis’ No. 26

AP
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In Tampa Bay, they’re letting bygones be bygones.

Martin St. Louis, the Lightning’s all-time leading scorer, will have his No. 26 jersey retired this season when Tampa Bay hosts John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets on Jan. 13.

“Everyone in the organization is excited to celebrate and thank Marty for his immense long-term contributions to the Lightning’s past successes and the Tampa Bay community,” owner Jeff Vinik said in a release. “As Marty enters his second year in retirement from the game, we believe this season is the time to hang his number from the rafters at AMALIE Arena.

“Marty had a terrific career in Tampa Bay, making six All-Star appearances while setting numerous team records, all highlighted of course by the Stanley Cup win in 2004. We look forward to a wonderful retirement ceremony, recognizing him for all that he accomplished as a member of the Lightning.”

This will mark the first in franchise history the Bolts have retired a number.

Undrafted out of the University of Vermont, St. Louis landed with the Lightning in 2000 and went on to a stellar career, highlighted by the aforementioned Cup victory in ’04 (under Tortorella, a nice touch for the Jan. 13 ceremony).

Statistically, he finished with 365 goals and 953 points in 972 games. He also served as captain, inheriting the role from Vincent Lecavalier in ’13.

He played nearly his entire career in Tampa Bay, though his time with the organization ended acrimoniously. After Bolts GM Steve Yzerman elected not to select St. Louis for Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad, St. Louis requested a trade from Tampa and eventually moved to New York, helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Though there were some bitter moments at the time of the trade, both sides tried to  move past the situation. St. Louis constantly re-iterated his love for the fans, city and community and, in his first game back in Tampa Bay following the trade, the organization honored him with a video tribute.

“To have my number retired by the Lightning is a tremendous honor and I’d like to thank Jeff Vinik and everyone in the organization for recognizing me this way,” St. Louis said in today’s release. I have many great memories in Tampa Bay, including our great Stanley Cup win, and this night will be extremely special and emotional for my family and me.  

“I am happy I will get to share the evening with all the Lightning fans who have always supported me throughout my career – Tampa Bay will always feel like home to me.”