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Lightning's Martin St. Louis feels honored, but stays focused on teammates and playoffs.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2003
TAMPA -- When Martin St. Louis found out Thursday that the NHL named him a member of the East All-Star team, it put the Lightning right wing in an awkward position.
While St. Louis said it was "an honor to be in that game" and that "individually, this has to be the highest point of my career," he also said, "I don't like to put my individual (achievements) at the top of the charts."
So St. Louis spent the next few minutes praising linemates Brad Richards and Fredrik Modin, and juxtaposing the Feb. 2 game in Sunrise with what he believes is most important.
"I'd give (the All-Star designation) back for a guaranteed chance to play in the playoffs," he said. "I'm happy I'm there, but at the same time, I'll be more disappointed if we don't achieve as a team."
It will be the first All-Star Game for St. Louis, 27, of Laval, Quebec, who is just the eighth Lightning player to have the distinction. With Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin being voted in as a starter, the Lightning for the first time has two players in the same game.
The team could have even more representation at All-Star Weekend if Brad Richards is named to the YoungStars Game, which will be played Feb. 1 and features players 25 and younger still in their entry-level contracts.
St. Louis and Richards are tied for the team lead with 41 points. St. Louis has a team-high 21 goals.
"It's something where I'm personaly getting rewarded for the team's success," St. Louis said. "It's something that goes to my teammates and linemates. Without their success, it would be tough to have my success."
The success includes career highs in goals, points, assists and power-play goals (nine).
"I think it's phenomenal," general manager Jay Feaster said of St. Louis' selection. "Marty is a player who brings everything he has every game. He's one of the guys you find yourself rooting for. I've always said about him, every day he comes in here wondering "Is this the day they're going to send me out,' and he works so much harder because of that."
A notable perk for St. Louis will be playing on the same team as Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, who grew up in Montreal, of which Laval is a suburb.
"Where does this fit into my career? I'm going to remember this for a long time," St. Louis said. "Just thinking of being on the same team as Mario Lemieux. I grew up watching him. I'll be like a kid in a candy store."
Not an awkward combination at all.