Martin St. Louis becomes oldest player to capture NHL scoring title
Over a decade ago, Martin St. Louis defied the odds, earning his shot in the National Hockey League as an undrafted, 5-foot-8 forward.
But on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, he also defied father time.
St. Louis became the oldest player, at age 37, to capture the Art Ross Trophy, better known as the league's scoring title for most points in a single season.
The achievement surpassed that of Bill Cook of the New York Rangers, who was 36 years of age when he won the title back during the 1932-33 season.
That St. Louis' feat came in a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers in the regular season finale proved to be the only demerit, but none so much that it overshadowed what was a remarkable individual accomplishment for the Bolts forward.
2012-13 NHL Scoring Leaders
- Martin St. Louis - 17-43-60
- Steven Stamkos - 29-28-57
- Alexander Ovechkin - 32-34-56
- Sidney Crosby - 15-41-56
- Patrick Kane - 23-32-55
"I'm proud obviously," St. Louis said. "But I would trade a lot to be in the playoffs and to have another chance at a Stanley Cup. But when all that goes away, you try to finish strong and play the right way and you find yourself in this situation where you can do something pretty cool."
That he certainly did.
Keep in mind, St. Louis finished the year with 17 goals and 43 assists, good for a total of 60 points in the lockout-shortened campaign.
Extrapolated over an 82-game season, however, that points total would look more like 103 points had all games been played.
St. Louis though, also was fair in that he mentioned at least twice the probability of him not receiving the award had it not been for an injury to Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
In fact, it took exactly 25 days for Crosby, who finished tied for third with 56 points, to be overtaken.
Still, during which a season the Lightning did not qualify for the playoffs, it was a moment that both St. Louis and his teammates could be proud of.
"A couple things happen along the way, obviously with Sidney getting hurt," St. Louis added. "But it's something that nobody can take away from me. It's in the books."
Not just this one, but the one from nine years ago also.
This is the second time St. Louis has been awarded the Art Ross Trophy in his career. The previous instance came during the 2003-04 season when he also won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and helped his team to the franchise's first and only, to date, Stanley Cup.
Even though he is getting older – St. Louis will turn 38 in June – he seems to be getting better.
"As you get older, you always have to answer questions about your age and slowing down, so you're fighting those," St. Louis said. "You've got to give yourself the best chance to be successful, taking care of your body, putting the time in so that you are ready to have a good season."
Speaking of which, it was just as good a season for St. Louis as it was his teammates, who throughout the night, tried to get him the puck. They were all pulling for him too, showing their elation on the bench with each of his two points he recorded on the night.
Even head coach Jon Cooper said he was impressed.
"I'm really proud to be a part of history," Cooper said. "What a feat. It's amazing. You look at him and you think he is 27 and not 37. It's a tribute to everything about him."
And it's perspective for perhaps what is still yet to come.