LAS VEGAS — Lightning wing Marty St. Louis said he did not really want to muck up what he called "a special night" by discussing business.
Even so, after being awarded the Lady Byng Trophy, given by the media for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play, St. Louis said he is "encouraged" by general manager Steve Yzerman's talk of a contract extension and is "confident we can work something out."
"But I'm really focused on this," he said of the Lady Byng on Wednesday at the NHL awards ceremony at the Palms Hotel. "We all play for the Stanley Cup. But when you get recognized for other stuff besides a team trophy, it's neat. … I couldn't be happier to win this."
Lightning defenseman Kurtis Foster finished behind Capitals goalie Jose Theodore for the Masterton Trophy, given for dedication to the game. And center Steven Stamkos, looking sharp in a shiny offwhite suit, received the Rocket Richard Trophy with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for their league-best 51 goals.
Stamkos also got some support for the Hart Trophy, the media's MVP award, placing sixth with two third-place votes, three fourths and nine fifths.
But it was St. Louis' night, taking the Lady Byng in his fifth year as a finalist and after three straight runnerup finishes to Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk. "I'm kind of jealous," said Datsyuk, who won the award four straight years. "But I'm so happy for St. Louis, and congratulations to him. I like how he plays. He's small, but he's really aggressive."
Said Stamkos, "You look at (St. Louis) the way he competes and plays, you wouldn't think he'd be up for an award like this. But he's just so smart. He uses his speed, and he's always in position, so he doesn't have to take penalties. He's there to take the puck with his smarts and his speed. That's what separates him."
St. Louis also is a bit of a comedian and joked that ex-teammate and Lady Byng winner Brad Richards' advice to send Christmas cards to the referees paid off. Asked if his trophy case is big enough for the Lady Byng, St. Louis said of his hardware, "They're not all in one room."
And of writing his acceptance speech on his cell phone, he deadpanned: "When we walked in here, they told us to turn our phones off. I was like, 'Everybody is pulling paper out. Who uses paper?' "
Seriously, though, St. Louis, 35, also has a Stanley Cup, a Hart Trophy, a Pearson (the players association MVP award, now called the Ted Lindsay) and an Art Ross Trophy for his league-best 94 points in 2004.
His 94 points this past season against 12 penalty minutes was the league's largest points-to-penalty minutes ratio, and his 74 first-place votes were 73 more than the second-place Richards.
"It's about how you play the game. I don't think it's about small or big," said the 5-foot-7 St. Louis. "It's an award that recognizes you can have success by playing within the rules of the game."
That doesn't mean playing without an edge. "It really is," he said, "trying to push it to the limit without getting caught."