Martin St. Louis has jersey number retired by Lightning in emotional ceremony

Prior to Friday night’s Lightning-Blue Jackets game at Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay held an emotional and historically significant ceremony in honor of one of the franchise’s most influential players.

Martin St. Louis became the first player in Lightning history to have his number retired by the team. It’s an honor well deserved, as St. Louis is the franchise leader in points (953) and was an integral pillar of the organization for a number of years, including their 2004 Stanley Cup season.

But before his No. 26 was raised to the rafters at Amalie Arena, St. Louis thanked a number of people, including friends, family and teammates — many of whom were in attendance.

One person not on hand for the ceremony was St. Louis’ mother, who passed away suddenly in 2014.

Marty has often credited his mother for his tenacity and mental toughness — two things that were extremely crucial for a five-foot-eight winger hoping to find a lengthy career in the big bad NHL. And a teary St. Louis sharing how his mother pushed him to be the best he could be — which ultimately led him to where he is today — tugged at the heartstrings of the entire arena.

The incredibly emotional ceremony made for a really special day in Tampa, especially considering the fact that St. Louis’ tenure with the organization didn’t exactly come to the most romantic of ends. The winger’s relationship with the organization’s management — specifically general manager Steve Yzerman — deteriorated during his final season with the club and eventually led to him being traded to the New York Rangers, where he spent the final year-and-a-half of his career.

How fantastic to see St. Louis reconcile with the team that he did so much for over the years and deservedly take his place in club history.