“I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” St. Louis said. “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.”
In 1,134 career regular season, St. Louis notched 391 goals and a total of 1,033 points.
St. Louis’ career began with the Calgary Flames. The club took a gamble on a “too small” player, signing him to a contract in February of 1998. Few other NHL teams were interested in him, but the Ottawa Senators did offer him a tryout. He wound up signing with the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League before the Flames took notice and signed him.
By the 1998-1999 season, St. Louis had earned a spot on the main roster – at least for a while. He debuted on October 9, 1998 against the San Jose Sharks. He scored his first goal against Roman Turek of the Dallas Stars on October 20, 1998.
By the 1999-2000 NHL season, St. Louis was playing full-time on the Flames. In 56 games, he finished with 18 points.
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out. Despite having the support of general manager Al Coates, the Flames elected to move on from St. Louis and left him exposed in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft. And St. Louis was overlooked again, so Calgary bought him out and made him a free agent.
Tampa Bay eventually took a gamble on him and signed him, where he made his debut in October of 2000. He was in and out of the lineup again and it took until November of 2000 for him to score his first goal for the Lightning.
That was when he decided to trust his instincts. The changes he made stuck and he found his stride, finishing the season with 18 goals and 40 points.
By the 2002-2003 season, St. Louis was ready to break out. He tied Vincent Lecavalier for the team lead in goal-scoring with 33 goals and managed 70 points in the campaign. He also appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game, where he won the puck control relay and finished second in the fastest skating competition.
The following season, St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy with 94 points. He was fourth overall in goals with 38 led the league with a plus-38 rating. By February of 2004, he had scored his 100th NHL goal. And in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he led the Lightning to the ultimate prize with a show-stopping performance. He won the Hart Trophy, too, becoming the first player since Wayne Gretzky to win the Art Ross, Hart and Cup all in one season.
From that point on, St. Louis was always a threat. He had 102 points in the 2006-2007 season and reached 99 points in the 2010-2011 season. He was an ironman, rarely missing games due to injury, and he was an integral part of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
St. Louis was traded to the New York Rangers on March 5 of 2014, solidifying a change that he’d reportedly been asking for since 2009. An Olympic snub and some bad blood with Steve Yzerman led to the decision, putting an unfortunate damper on the relationship between St. Louis and the Lightning.
He would reach more milestones in his brief tenure with the Rangers. On November 28, 2014, he reached 1,000 points and became just the sixth undrafted player in NHL history to hit the mark.
St. Louis, like other “too small” players before him, had to prove himself time and time again in the NHL. And he did just that, putting the cap on a great career. It may not have ended how he wanted, but most fans will remember him for his contributions to the game and for his utter tenacity. He got the job done, proving that size doesn’t matter that much when you’ve got heart.