Martin St. Louis said he received offers in unrestricted free agency. He had opportunities to play somewhere, but ultimately, he couldn’t deal with the grind of an NHL season again.
“My heart wasn’t in it,” St. Louis said.
Believe him or not, that’s what he said at his Monday news conference discussing his retirement as a New York Ranger.
Interesting from a player who put everything he had into every game, throwing his 5-foot-8 body (and enormous thighs) all over the ice with reckless abandon.
Before unrestricted free agency, the 40-year-old St. Louis said he was about 80 percent yes and 20 percent no on retiring. But after that process on July 1, he quickly announced he was done after 16 seasons and 1,033 points. It was on July 2.
“I guess I wasn’t ready to announce it before July 1,” he said.
Last season, he did score 21 goals and picked up 52 points – which is decent for any player at any age. He had a woefully bad postseason with the Rangers with just one goal and six assists in 19 games as the win-now Blueshirts were ousted in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final by Tampa.
“Do I still think I can play? Yeah,” he said. “But it’s time to move on and do something else.”
He did say if he expressed a desire to play again for the Rangers, he thought the team would have tried to make their salary cap situation work to make room. Whether that’s true or not, who knows – but he would have needed to take a massive paycut from his prior four-year contract with an average $5.625 million salary cap hit. Earlier in the summer, the New York Post reported the Rangers didn’t want to bring him back.
St. Louis said he will spend more time with his kids coaching hockey. And do the retired hockey player thing of playing more golf.
“They’re getting to an age right now where I’m missing a lot of stuff,” he said. “That time, you can’t get back. It played a huge part in my decision.”
Were there any hard feelings with Tampa? After all, St. Louis, the 2004 Hart Trophy winner, did leave the Lightning in very non-ceremonial fashion in a 2014 trade to New York.St. Louis won a Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2004.
He talked about the old Tampa staff, former GMs Rick Dudley and Jay Feaster and former coach John Tortorella in glowing fashion.
“I finally had people who believed in me and it took off,” he said.
“I always felt I wanted to finish my career in New York,” St. Louis said. “To be able to do that I think it’s exactly how I wanted it and I’m happy for it.”
Seeing a guy who embodied the Lightning for years wearing a Rangers crest at a retirement news conference looked weird. The pink shorts … (which are sadly not visible in the above photo) were stylish. But you can see them on the Rangers' official Periscope!
Even two seasons ago when he led the NHL in scoring, seeing St. Louis retire with any team but Tampa would have sounded odd. But then again, if Martin Brodeur can suddenly morph from Mr. Devil to Mr. St. Louis Blue in one year, anything is possible.
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