Nearly a decade ago, Martin St. Louis had a pretty good year. He was 29-years-old and playing on a darn good hockey team. He climbed from being very much not a point-per-game player to far more than that. He led the NHL in scoring at the end of the regular season (right when it was at its pre-lockout slogging worst – 94 points got the job done), edging out Ilya Kovalchuk, Joe Sakic, Marcus Nasland and a 25-year-old Marian Hossa. He scored 24 points in 23 playoff games, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, then he hopped on a Pegasus and flew to Mount Money where he was greeted by Victoria’s Secret models on clouds of fluffy cotton candy. If my memory serves me correct, anyway.
But he didn’t get fat and happy and watch his stats go in the tank as so many NHLers do once their age begins with the number three. He’s played in 613 NHL games since (only missing seven games, including a run of five straight 82 game seasons), and scored 651 points in those contests. The Lightning have only been back to playoffs three times since The Year, but it certainly hasn’t been for a lack of him contributing.
But all NHL players enter into decline eventually (oh humanity, you cruel beast), and 37 seems like about the time you’d expect to see some. Or like, lots. But nutrition and training have changed over the years, and we’re seeing more and more older players maintain value into their later years. Teemu Selanne was nearly a point-per-game guy last year over age 40, Jaromir Jagr is still doin’ it to it, and Patrick Elias remains a viable offensive threat. And if there’s anyone who seems to be into fitness and nutrition…
It might be This Guy above.
It took an additional 10 games and 25 days for someone to catch Sidney Crosby in the race to lead the NHL in scoring, but it finally happened. And yes, we’re still talking about the dude above. Here’s where things stand this morning:
I cut it off before the name “Chris Kunitz” because nobody wants to start their day with whiplash from doing a double-take.
With only two games left St. Louis holds a two point advantage on his teammate, and given how often they play together, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hard for Stamkos to pass him. He’s likely going to win his second Art Ross Trophy, which will make him the oldest winner of that award ever. It will also be the largest gap between scoring titles of any player to win it twice. The man is good, and he’s been good for a long, long time.
The game that put him over the top was played last night, when he buried a hat trick against the Leafs (apparently his youngest son has been asking him to get three in a game for awhile, so St. Louis seemed pretty pumped about his game – in his own understated manner, of course), which you can watch below.
He’s proof that being a cerebral hockey player with skill is as valuable as any raw talents a player may possess, and that those are the type of players who are most likely to succeed into their later years of their career.
So with out any further ado, some applause.
Good for you, Marty. Good for you.