Martin St. Louis forgives Yzerman for Olympic snub
Lightning star was cut for Vancouver Games
Four years later, the pain still lingers for Martin St. Louis.
While Canada captured the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against the United States, veteran left winger Martin St. Louis sat at home and watched.
The NHL’s leading scorer and most valuable player in 2003-04 fully expected to be a member of the team, but he didn’t make the cut. It’s hard to be critical about the selection process of a team that wins the Olympic title, but that did little to console the offensive star from Laval, Que.
"I’m happy they won the gold medal," St. Louis recalled. "But at the same time, it was a tough situation for me to have to watch it.”
Fast forward to 2013 and one can be forgiven for thinking St. Louis will be a lock to make the team that travels to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. He's off to a strong start and the man responsible for selecting the team, after all, is Steve Yzerman, who just happens to be his boss with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
St. Louis’s age, 38, might work against him, but given the fact he won his second NHL scoring title last season, coupled with the reality that he is regarded as one of the league’s best conditioned players, it’s not a real stretch to imagine him being a key member of the team.
It also helps that among the 25 forwards chosen to attend the summer orientation camp, the majority of them were natural centres. You can’t have a team full of centres. A natural winger such as St. Louis is valuable.
“I’ll be a natural whatever they want me to be,” St. Louis said with a chuckle. “If I have the chance to play for my country at this stage of my career, I’ll do whatever they want. My kids are 10, eight and five, and they will remember this event. I take pride in that. My kids are part of everything I do now and what I get to experience, they get to experience, too.
"I was left off the team in 2010 and I told myself I’d push myself as hard as I could and make it hard for them to not include me in 2014.”
St. Louis part of Turin disaster
St. Louis was on Canada's 2006 Olympic team that lost 2-0 to Russia in the quarter-finals and failed to earn a medal, finishing seventh, in Turin, Italy. In six games, St. Louis tallied two goals and three points.
His other international experience includes three trips to the world championships, where he helped Canada win one gold (2007) and two silver medals.
While the Lightning struggled last season, finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference, St. Louis flourished, winning the Art Ross Trophy with 17 goals and 60 points in 48 games.
St. Louis said he and Yzerman chatted about the 2010 Olympics not long after the Hall of Famer took over the Lightning.
“We talked about it early on and it’s behind us,” St. Louis said. “I’m not upset, but there was nothing Steve could have said to me to make me feel better about not being on that team. I told him I’ll always be disappointed no matter what he tells me, but they are put in a position to make tough decisions and he had to make the decisions he had to make. Obviously he made the right ones because they won the gold medal.”
Yzerman makes no apologies for his personnel decisions in 2010. A gold medal, after all, is a gold medal.
“I look at that team and all the decisions we made through that process,” Yzerman said. “In hindsight, I can’t say every decision I made I would make again. But we won and that’s the most important thing."
"I think [St. Louis] brings a lot to the table,” said former NHL defenceman Chris Pronger, who has played with and against the Lightning winger. “Based on his play the past few years, I think he belongs as long as he plays well [this] season.”
First he was too small; now he’s too old.
Martin St. Louis has defied the odds before, and the odds are he’ll do it again.