Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At 34, Tampa Bay Lightning's Marty St. Louis continues to defy odds

Marty St. Louis, the oldest Lightning player at 34, is one of seven active players with 60 points in six straight seasons.


Marty St. Louis, the oldest Lightning player at 34, is one of seven active players with 60 points in six straight seasons.

TAMPA — His story will always be told the same way. It has to be. You just don't rise up from out of nowhere to become a Hart Trophy winner on a Stanley Cup champion team. And so, yes, the legend of Marty St. Louis was settled long ago.

But do you know what's crazy? In some ways, the later years are just as remarkable as the early days. All this time later, St. Louis is back to defying the odds just as he did as an undrafted free agent more than a decade ago.

Look at the NHL's top 20 or so scoring leaders this morning. You will see Alex Ovechkin, aged 24. And Dany Heatley, aged 28. You will see 23-year-old Evgeni Malkin and 21-year-old Nicklas Backstrom. And in the middle of the bunch is St. Louis, in all of his 34-year-old glory.

It is not a fluke, and it is not likely to change anytime soon. A year ago, he was the oldest player among the NHL's top 20 scorers, and it's a pretty good bet he will not budge in 2009-10.

Five games into the season and St. Louis has three goals and six assists. He showed up again Monday night with a game-tying goal on a power play in the third period against Florida.

"His speed is as good as ever, and I think that's evident if you just watch him," Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said. "The thing that strikes me is Marty is a guy you appreciate the more you see. He's just so serious about everything he does, and he trains so hard.

"I think he's easily got another four good seasons in him. I get calls about him more than any other player we've got. People think we've got (Steven) Stamkos and maybe we're looking to go younger, but as far as I'm concerned, Marty will finish his career in Tampa Bay. He will be here as long as I'm here. Heck, he'll probably be here after I'm gone."

Not too long ago, people in the league figured forwards would begin to see a dropoff in production around 32 or 33. Maybe because of conditioning, that number is now 34 or 35.

But the previous Lightning regime considered St. Louis an even larger risk because of his size and reliance on speed. His contract was frontloaded so most of his money was paid in his early 30s so Tampa Bay wouldn't be stuck with an aging player with a salary that was larger than his production. In retrospect, they miscalculated. St. Louis, at 34, is one of the great bargains in the NHL.

Look at it this way:

St. Louis is one of only seven current players to have scored 60 or more points in six consecutive seasons. The rest of the list is filled with top moneymakers. There is Vincent Lecavalier and his $10 million salary. There is Marian Hossa at $7.9 million, Ilya Kovalchuk at $7.5 million, Joe Thornton at $7.2 million and Daniel Alfredsson and Jarome Iginla, both making $7 million.

St. Louis is drawing $4 million in paychecks this season.

Turns out, the idea that St. Louis might slip in his mid 30s was wrong on two levels. No. 1, he has kept himself in good enough shape that he hasn't lost much, if any, speed. No. 2, his speed was not the only thing that made him a star.

"It sounds kind of weird to say, but I don't think his game is based on speed," Lightning center Jeff Halpern said. "The biggest thing about Marty is he is a smart player, and he has the ability to read and break down defenses and make little quick puck plays most guys aren't able to do. Speed allows him to get to those spots, and dart away, but even without the speed he would be an impact player.

"There are guys like Brett Hull who are able to play close to 40 because of their skills. Marty will always have above-average speed, but it's his thinking that sets him apart."

Is he better at 34 than he was at 24? Not even close, he says. He's much better today. So is he better today than he was at 28, when he was the league MVP? Is he better than he was at 31, when he scored a career-high 102 points?

"I don't know where the peak is. I don't know. I don't look at it that way," St. Louis said. "I just try to be the best I can be, and I'll let people write what they want to write."

A couple of months ago, St. Louis arrived for the start of training camp and was going through the administrative details of checking in when he picked up a Lightning roster. He looked at name after name. He looked at birthdate after birthdate. By the time he reached the end of the page, the kid who showed up as an unwanted free agent on a $250,000 salary nine years ago realized he was now the oldest player on the team.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but the story keeps going on and on.

And so does St. Louis.

John Romano can be reached at

At 34, Tampa Bay Lightning's Marty St. Louis continues to defy odds 10/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 12, 2009 11:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)