CALGARY, Alberta — The Lightning have not been back to the Saddledome much in the past 10 years, so the chances to reminisce about the 2004 Stanley Cup championship series between Tampa Bay and Calgary do not come to the forefront often.
But for Marty St. Louis, it doesn’t take long for those memories to flood back.
“I always reminisce a little bit, especially down in that corner,’’ St. Louis said.
That corner of the ice is where the most important goal in franchise history was scored, when St. Louis came flying down the left wing area, pounced on a rebound of Jassen Cullimore’s point shot and flipped the puck over the shoulder of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the early minutes of Game 6 to extend the series to deciding game.
But Calgary is more than just a highlight of one of the most important goals St. Louis has scored in his career, it’s also where is career began.
After a successful four-year run at the University of Vermont, and a strong start to the 1997-98 year playing in the International Hockey League with Cleveland, St. Louis was signed as free agent by Calgary. But after two years, and a change in Flames’ management staff following the 1999-2000 season, St. Louis was cut loose by the new regime, which bought out his contract.
While he was bitter at the time of the decision by the new Calgary management team, St. Louis never held a grudge against anybody.
“The people that liked me, cared about me, so to speak, they were all gone, so it’s not like I felt betrayed,” St. Louis said. “When everybody gets fired, it’s hard.”
The move ended up working out for the best, as St. Louis signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay prior to the 2000-01 season and has gone on to win a Stanley Cup, two Art Ross Trophies, three Lady Byng awards, a Hart Trophy (league MVP), Ted Lindsay award (player’s MVP) and is now captain of the Lightning. And he made his mark the hard way, doing it when hooking, holding and clutching was rampant in the league, no more evident than during that seven-game Stanley Cup final series almost 10 years ago.
“I watched that game (six) a bunch of times and there was no room,” St. Louis said. “There was nothing. I had zero shots on net. That (overtime goal) was my first shot. I look back and as I’m watching the game I’m thinking I should have shot here, shot there. But there wasn’t really opportunities to shoot, it was so tight, hooking, holding.’’