Lightning retire St. Louis’ No. 26, first in team history

Former Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Martin St. Louis stands with his family as a banner bearing his number is raised during jersey retirement ceremony before an NHL hockey game between the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Martin St. Louis stands with his family as a banner bearing his number is raised during jersey retirement ceremony before an NHL hockey game between the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning have retired Martin St. Louis’ uniform No. 26 — the first player in franchise history to receive the honor.

St. Louis was honored in a pregame ceremony Friday night before the Lightning played Columbus.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Martin St. Louis waves as he walks by some of his awards during a jersey retirement ceremony before an NHL hockey game between the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Martin St. Louis waves as he walks by some of his awards during a jersey retirement ceremony before an NHL hockey game between the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

A key member of Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, St. Louis holds the franchise record for points (953) and assists (588).

“Wow. What a night,” said St. Louis, who teared up during his speech when talking about his late mother. “It’s such an incredible honor.”

Those speaking at the ceremony included Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who coached the 2003-04 Lightning, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos.

“Every day wanting to be better and making his teammates better, it’s such an inspiration to me to have been part of his journey,” Tortorella said. “I just have so much respect for how he did it. It’s just unbelievable.”

St. Louis began his NHL career with Calgary (1998-2000) and signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2000, playing there until 2014, when he was traded to the New York Rangers. He retired from playing in July 2015.

“He was, still is, and forever will be the heart and soul of this organization,” Stamkos said.

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