In 19 regular games since arriving in New York after a trade deadline deal from Tampa, Martin St. Louis had one goal and seven assist. Now, in just three playoff games he leads the Rangers in postseason scoring with two goals and three assists.
Brad Richards, who was Lightning teammates with St. Louis, tells Jeff Klein at the New York Times the reason for the turn around is due to the 38-year old forward relaxing on and off the ice…
“When your head is full of junk in any sport, you can’t get out of your own way, and you do things that aren’t natural and free flowing,” he added. “It feels like he’s part of it now.
“He’s talking more; he’s getting to get to know the guys more, and he’s being himself off of the ice. He’s getting more comfortable, and he’s back to being Marty.”
Richards added that after being in Tampa for 13 years it was very difficult for St. Louis when he was first traded to the Rangers and the reasons for his struggles were due to trying too hard.
In fact, in an effort to clear St. Louis’ mind, Alain Vigneault not only decided to sit him for the season finale in Montreal, but also thought of taking it a step further…
“I even offered him the possibility to stay home with his wife and family. But he turned that down. He wanted to be with his teammates.”
Richards notes that he’s been doing all he can to get St. Louis acclimated to his new surroundings…
“He’s at my house every game day, eating my food, using my spare bedroom — I can’t do much else,” Richards said, laughing. “He doesn’t like the commute some nights, but he’s more than welcome; we’d do the same for each other. I’m trying to get him to know the guys and the coaches. If he’s asking questions — ‘What’s this guy like?’ — you’re trying to get him to know how everything works. That’s the best way to do it. I can’t help him on the ice as much as I can help him get comfortable on the ice.”
…it’s real easy for us fans to sit here and criticize someone who gets paid millions of dollars to play a game for not being able to suck it up. But he’s still a human being, so no matter how much money you make it’s never easy to leave your home, especially under the circumstances he went through. Seeing his name dragged through the mud by people who were supposedly his friends on the west coast of Florida probably didn’t help.
…huge props to the Rangers organization, especially Richards, for going completely out of the way to make him feel accepted within his new organization. The pressure on St. Louis after demanding a trade and then being sent to media capital of the world in exchange for a popular team captain could easily have led him to feel isolated.
…and even though St. Louis wasn’t scoring, he was creating chances, so you knew it was only a matter of time before he broke out. I was also impressed that he didn’t allow the pressure of expectations as well as the lack of goals affect the rest of his game as he continued to do the little things to help the Rangers win.
…now that he’s getting closer to being himself off the ice, we’re finally getting a glimpse of the player we’ve always admired from afar on it. The single biggest reason for the Rangers lack of success over the years has been their anemic offense. If St. Louis is able to continue this torrid pace to go along with a strong defense and of course Lundqvist, the Rangers may finally have the squad to make a real run at the Stanley Cup.