St. Louis trade stuns, saddens Lightning fans - WFLA News Channel 8

St. Louis trade stuns, saddens Lightning fans

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa Bay Lightning hockey fans are stunned.

Martin St. Louis is now a New York Ranger.

"It's a tough pill to swallow, but if it makes the team better, then I guess we have to deal with it," Lightning fan Jeff Reese said.

For more than a decade St. Louis was the heart of the Lightning hockey franchise, proving wrong all those who said he was too small to play in the National Hockey League.

St. Louis came to Tampa Bay hoping to jump start his stalled hockey career. He leaves as the 9th captain in Lightning history, it's all time leader in points scored, assists, game winning goals and post season scoring.

He is simply a fan favorite.

"It's probably a good deal overall, but I hate to see Marty go out this way, that's all," fan Jerry Coffey said. "Marty is the face of the team."

Martin St. Louis arrived in Tampa Bay in 2000 as an unwanted player, who just wanted a chance, coupled with a hockey franchise seeking respectability.

His popularity in Tampa Bay grew because fans recognized he outplayed bigger, brawnier bruisers with his heart.

"I'm not happy about it, I think St. Louis was the heart and soul of the team," Lightning fan Doug Gregory said of the trade.

In 2004, the Lightning unforgettably marched to the Stanley Cup championship. St. Louis scored 24 points in 23 playoff games, including the winner in double overtime in a dramatic game 6 against the Flames in Calgary, forcing a deciding gave 7 in Tampa.

Fans in Tampa Bay will remember Martin St. Louis as the underdog who hockey pros said was too small.

But when he raised that Stanley Cup over his head, St. Louis proved how big that heart really is.

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