St. Louis shakes off tragedy and plays in Game 5 vs. Penguins
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wasn't going to push winger Martin St. Louis to play a hockey game the day after his mother's unexpected death.
As things turned out, he didn't have to.
Though his mother, France, died Thursday at age 63, St. Louis suited up for the Rangers on Friday against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center for Game 5 of their Stanley Cup second-round series.
“I know deep down my mom would want me to play this game,” St. Louis said.
Vigneault said the Rangers — St. Louis included — learned of the death shortly after arriving in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
As the rest of the team took a bus to its hotel, St. Louis boarded a plane bound for Laval, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, to be with his father, Normand.
Vigneault said he and St. Louis exchanged text messages Thursday night. By morning, Martin and Normand St. Louis arrived at a decision.
Because the Rangers held only an optional skate at Consol on Friday, many players did not find out St. Louis would play until the pregame meal in the afternoon, Vigneault said.
No cause of death was known at press time.
“She was a great lady,” St. Louis said. “Best human being I've ever known in my life. I owed it to her to do it. I know she would want me to do it.”
St. Louis, 38, had six points in seven games during the Rangers' first-round series win, but he has yet to record a point against the Penguins.
He was on the ice, however, as forward Chris Kreider snapped the Rangers' 0-for-36 skid with a power play goal in the first period.
St. Louis was even and had one shot in 16 minutes, 19 seconds.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he knew St. Louis through a mutual friend and reached out to offer his condolences.
“My heart goes out to Marty and his family,” Bylsma said.
Before the game, a CBC camera caught Penguins captain Sidney Crosby consoling St. Louis outside of the Rangers' locker room, offering a handshake and chatting for a bit while St. Louis rode a stationary bike.
Defenseman Kris Letang can identify with what St. Louis was going through.
During the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, Letang dealt with the death of his best friend, Luc Bourdon, a Vancouver prospect who died in a motorcycle accident.
“Hockey is a big thing in our lives, but family comes first,” Letang said. “I just hope he's OK.”
St. Louis played a game he loves to memorialize a person he loved more. Now, after the Rangers' 5-1 win, Game 6 is Sunday.
On Mother's Day.
“For us, it was a real emotional day,” Vigneault said. “We have another chance to continue. It's going to be on Mother's Day, which is going to be real special for our group.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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