TAMPA — Flanked by family and surrounded by 19,000-plus friends in the stands, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Marty St. Louis was honored before Monday's game for playing in 1,000 career games.
St. Louis reached the milestone Nov. 19 in Los Angeles, but Monday was the first home game for Tampa Bay since St. Louis reached the mark. St. Louis promptly scored at 3:10 of the first period.
Before the ceremony, a video tribute was played highlighting his career while Lightning television voice Rick Peckham handled the introductions before the gifts were handed out.
Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk and former teammate Brad Richards, now with the Rangers, presented an illustrated framed timeline of St. Louis' first 1,000 games.
Former NHL official Don Koharski, who was on the ice for St. Louis' first NHL game with Calgary in Tokyo, Japan, presented a Tiffany crystal on behalf of the league.
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman handed out the commemorative silver stick
Owner Jeff Vinik presented St. Louis with a Rolex watch
And in the surprise of the evening, Steven Stamkos walked to center ice less than two weeks after surgery to repair a broken right tibia, and gave St. Louis a hug before offering a commemorative book filled with newspaper articles and other mementos from his 1,000 games.
“He's brought a lot of memories to hockey fans, especially Lightning fans,'' Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “For him to survive and excel the way he's done, it's unreal. I'm happy and really excited for him.''
Richards, who played on a line with St. Louis for most of the 2004 championship season, was happy to be able to attend the celebration.
“I'm thrilled it worked out this way that I'm here,'' Richards said before the game. “I still talk to him pretty much weekly on the game and things we're doing, whether its stick length or how the game is played. We still pick each other's brains.
“He's helped me a lot and I still look up to him and love how he competes. He's a good inspiration to me.''