After months of speculation regarding who would succeed Vincent Lecavalier as the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s next captain, there’s finally an answer. Tuesday night, the team announced Martin St. Louis had earned that honor.
One of the NHL‘s shortest players, St. Louis does his talking on the ice. By that, I mean he literally can take a team on his back and deliver them to the promised land. Remember the 2004 Stanley Cup finals? He may not have been the hero of Game 7, but there’s no doubt his double overtime goal in the series’ sixth game gave the Lightning momentum coming back home.
He’s also coming off one of his best seasons, becoming the oldest player in league history to capture the Art Ross Trophy. That’s pretty amazing, especially considering many 37-year-olds either can’t keep up with their younger counterparts or have already hung up the skates for good.
St. Louis is a role model as well. One who doesn’t hesitate to take a young, still developing prospect under his wing in an attempt to make their transition from juniors to the big leagues easier. A prime example of that is Steven Stamkos.
2008′s first overall draft pick, Stamkos leapt straight from juniors to the big stage. That first year was nothing short of tumultuous, as he only notched 23 goals, and had to deal with harsh criticism from former Lightning head coach and current ESPN analyst Barry Melrose.
Following Melrose’s firing, interim coach Rick Tocchet immediately placed Stamkos alongside St. Louis. From there, the two became good friends, always rooting for one another, which likely played a huge role in their continued personal success.
Because of that, it’s only fitting Stamkos will serve as one of the Lightning’s three alternate captains. The others are Nate Thompson and Matt Carle.
Could this be the leadership crew Tampa Bay needs in order to stay competitive within the tough Atlantic division? While unknown, St. Louis’ leadership skills give the Lightning renewed optimism moving forward. And that’s a welcome sign for those who lived through last season’s disaster.