Martin St. Louis announced his retirement Wednesday after 16 NHL seasons, a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and a handful of individual trophies to show for his career.
The Laval, Que., native was a seven-time all-star who won the Hart Trophy as MVP once and Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer twice. St. Louis also won the Lester B. Pearson (now Ted Lindsay) award as the players' most outstanding player and three times earned the Lady Byng for gentlemanly conduct.
St. Louis went from being undersized and undrafted to one of the most prolific scorers in the past two decades. He recorded 1,033 points on 391 goals and 642 assists in 1,34 games with the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
"He's accomplished everything he could accomplish in the NHL," close friend and former Tampa Bay teammate Mike Smith said in a phone interview. "He was an undrafted player who was a little guy that had everything kind of going against him, and he just continued to prove everyone wrong."
St. Louis helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2004 and was part of Canada's World Cup-winning team months later. That was the year he won the Hart, Pearson and Art Ross with a league-best 56 assists and 94 points.
"I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL," St. Louis said in the statement announcing his retirement. "It has been an amazing ride."
St. Louis was part of Canada's undefeated gold-medal-winning 2014 Sochi Olympic team and finished his career with the Rangers. The 40-year-old was an unrestricted free agent and explained his decision as wanting to spend more time with wife Heather and sons Ryan, Lucas and Mason.
"I have dedicated my life to being the best player I could be and now want to turn more of my focus to my three boys," St. Louis said. "I look forward to this next chapter of my life and the time I will have with my family."
The five-foot-eight St. Louis was undrafted out of the University of Vermont before the Flames signed him in 1998. He didn't get his big break until signing as a free agent in 2000 with Tampa Bay, where he developed into premier offensive player.
Alongside Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, St. Louis delivered the Lightning their first Cup. He was named captain in 2013 after Lecavalier was bought out, a position he held until he was granted his trade request to the Rangers last year.
St. Louis had 15 points during New York's 2014 run to the Cup final. He put up 52 in 74 regular-season games this year.
"He always seemed to get better as his career went on," former Lightning teammate Jeff Halpern said. "I'm shocked that he retired only because ability wise I always felt like he was one of those guys that could play until he was 45."
In retiring now, St. Louis starts the clock ticking toward consideration for the Hockey Hall of Fame. His inclusion will be debated, but his numbers and accomplishments give him a strong case.
"I would think so," Smith said. "I think he played well over 1,000 games over 1,000 points, numerous personal accolades and obviously the Stanley Cup to go along with the rest. I think he's definitely well on his way to being a member."