Dinger’s Take: St. Louis’ 1000 Games
Marty St. Louis is about to play his 1000th game Tuesday night against Los Angeles. The same guy that got a watch from a family member for playing 100 games has come a long way. I think everyone knows about Marty playing for the University of Vermont, posting 267 pts in 139 games, and dominating, but going undrafted. He signed with the Cleveland Lumberjacks in the IHL, and then with the Calgary Flames, a club that would eventually buy him out for being too small, before signing with Tampa in 2000.
Marty has become an incredible athlete despite the fact that he has always had to prove himself, and the chip on his shoulder from being counted out when he was younger has become a huge incentive to succeed. There’s nothing that fires a player up more than thinking he’s not getting a fair shot. After dominating in college, he couldn’t get an NHL contract. He was forced to start in Cleveland, instead, and continue on to Saint John, where I played with him. We still joke about me getting him his first empty net, because if I didn’t pass it to him, he was going offside. Whether it was a shoutout competition at the end of practice, or a game of cards, it was competitive. Getting bought out by Calgary was another perceived slight, but he got a chance in Tampa and made the most of it. Drafted or undrafted, all any player wants is an opportunity.
People often wonder why certain guys make it and others don’t. I believe that it’s drive, work ethic, and being a little bit of an underdog. At the professional level, everyone is good, so it’s that constant drive to succeed regardless of what others think, or despite negativity, that separates some players from the pack. Marty has earned everything he has gotten: MVP’ s , Lady Byng’s , and a Stanley Cup. He is constantly one of the best, if not the best, conditioned player at camp every year. Believe me, that takes incredible perseverance in the summers when your buddies are golfing and drinking, and the kids are clamoring for attention. It’s hard to say “no, I have to train.” Steven Stamkos thought he was in good shape until he saw Marty and realized he had to take it to another level. All of these components are the reason he is the captain of the Lightning, leading by words and example.
1000 games is a tough achievement in itself–being a top player is another thing. How many years does he have left? Wouldn’t be surprised if he plays till he’s 50! Congratulations are in order. Hall of fame, later……
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