Sunday, July 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Steven Stamkos on Marty St. Louis: perfect mentor, friend

TAMPA — Marty St. Louis hasn't worn a Lightning sweater in nearly three years.

His accomplishments might seem like ancient history, from the banners hanging in the Amalie Arena rafters to records in the back pages of the media guide. St. Louis' No. 26 will be retired Friday in a ceremony before the game with the Blue Jackets.

But you can see the lasting impact of St. Louis on the current Lightning team, especially captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos, 26, said the person and player he has become was greatly shaped by St. Louis, his longtime friend and former linemate who retired in 2015.

So it should come as no surprise that when Stamkos was making the biggest decision of his career last summer in re-signing with Tampa Bay, St. Louis was one of those who advised him.

"He was my mentor, for sure," Stamkos said. "Everyone saw the chemistry we had on the ice, but not lot of people know — just because they don't get the behind-the-scenes look — of how much he meant to me, not only as a teammate but as a great friend."

When Stamkos was an 18-year-old rookie after being takes No. 1 overall in the 2008 draft, St. Louis took him under his wing and showed him the type of work ethic required to be a pro. "It was the perfect situation for me," Stamkos said.

Stamkos has had some of his best seasons while on a line with St. Louis, who assisted on 101 of his 321 career goals. He learned from St. Louis how to adapt in a league that's constantly becoming younger and faster. Stamkos' game has evolved, in how he scores to his two-way game, including becoming a key contributor on the penalty kill.

"You can see the way 'Stammer' wants to be better, wants to push his teammates to be better," said defenseman Victor Hedman, 26, who also played with St. Louis after being take second overall in the 2009 draft. "A lot of that, I think, is from the way Marty did it. He was an unbelievable mentor to Stammer, and me."

When Stamkos took over as captain from St. Louis in March 2014, after St. Louis requested and received a trade to the Rangers, he had already developed his leadership style from watching St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier. Stamkos' personality fits St. Louis' vocal style, sparking the team with between-periods or postgame talks.

"(St. Louis) knew when it was time to step up and talk, or he'd go out and have a great shift, led by example," Stamkos said. "He was the unique guy that can do it both ways."

Stamkos isn't the only Lightning player St. Louis helped mold. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat played on a line with St. Louis in their rookie year, 2013-14, when both were Calder Trophy finalists. Johnson said St. Louis was "one of the smartest players I've ever played with," helping him and Palat accelerate their development. St. Louis would offer tips after every shift, influencing the way they play and think the game today.

"He helped us with our confidence," Palat said. "He'd tell me, 'You're playing with me now, you're first line, we're not going to dump the puck all the time, you've got to make the plays.' "

Stamkos, the face of the franchise, said the undrafted St. Louis might have never held that "face" moniker because of the other greats on his teams, including Lecavalier. But as Stamkos prepares his speech for Friday's ceremony, a few even more important words will no doubt come up.

" 'Heart' and 'soul' are two words that will forever be attached to Marty St. Louis," Stamkos said. "For me, he was that, is that and will always be that to this organization. That's something that nobody can take away and something I know when Marty looks in the mirror, he'll be pretty proud of."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

   
Comments
Here’s our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

Here’s our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

The Lightning just celebrated its 25th anniversary season — long enough to have a Mount Rushmore.Here it is:Marty St. Louis (2000-14)St. Louis is the all-time franchise leader in points and the only Lightning player to make the Hall of Fame aft...
Published: 07/13/18
Lightning names AHL’s Derek Lalonde as new assistant

Lightning names AHL’s Derek Lalonde as new assistant

The Lightning has completed Jon Cooper's coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday the hiring of Derek Lalonde, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.Lalonde, 45, has steadily work...
Published: 07/12/18
Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

A busy few weeks of re-signing players continued Wednesday, as the Lightning brought back the last of their restricted free agents, signing left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800,000 contract for 2018-19.Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and...
Published: 07/11/18
Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

CLEARWATER — Nikita Kucherov could have waited a year, allowing the demand for a top young NHL scorer to escalate as he hit restricted free agency next summer.But when the Lightning made him an offer to become the highest-paid player in the tea...
Published: 07/10/18
Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

The Lightning took another step toward securing its future Tuesday by announcing that right wing Nikita Kucherov will sign the richest contract in franchise history.Kucherov's eight-year contract extension will pay him an average of $9.5 million star...
Published: 07/10/18
Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

TAMPA — The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes hasn't ended for the Lightning.But the Nikita Kucherov sweepstakes is over before it began.The Lightning has locked up its star right winger. An eight-year extension that begins in the 2019-20 season will p...
Published: 07/10/18
Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

ST. PETERSBURG — When the call from the Hall came, there she was again.The girl with the "I (heart) U Marty" sign, in the newspaper again, this time on the cover of the June 27 Tampa Bay Times sports section. She was frozen in time, doing what ...
Published: 07/07/18
What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris ...
Published: 07/06/18
The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

He wants to be here.This is the place.In case you'd missed it amid the gloom and doom of a Lightning season that came up short again, there are still people who want to play in Tampa Bay.One of them is Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson of Landsbro, Sweden. T...
Published: 07/06/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Rick Stroud returns from vacation to discuss reports that the Lightning will acquire star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.He also talks about reaction to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, the Rays' crazy home stand and which p...
Published: 07/06/18