We've written about it. It's the topic of conversation, and one of the more inspirational stories we'e come across in sports in recent memories. Think Torey Smith scoring two touchdowns less than 24 hours after the death of his brother, or Brett Favre passing for 399 yards and four touchdowns a day after the death of his father.
More on St. Louis
More on St. Louis
Martin St. Louis is proving he's got quite a bit of character, courage, and charisma in the face of adversity. It began by electing to play in Game 5 of the Rangers-Penguins series on Friday, a little over a day after the sudden death of his mother. It continued into Sunday, when St. Louis was back on the ice as the Rangers staved off elimination again, this time doing so on Mother's Day. And with the emotional stakes undoubtedly higher for the grieving 38-year-old forward, he raised his own game, scoring the Rangers first goal of the night, and playing arguably his most active and involved game in a New York sweater.
It may not have been a highlight reel goal, but St. Louis' active start and aggressive game created its own bounces, and where the Rangers have gotten off to hot starts but struggled to find the scoreboard at times this playoffs, a good net crash after making a strong play at the dots led to an early Rangers' edge.
Then came his reaction after Carl Hagelin pushed the score to 2-0, a look to the rafters, and a clear moment of homage to his late mother.
And finally, when the victory was sealed, and it came time for St. Louis to pass on the Broadway Hat he was awarded after Game 5 to a new teammate, the cohesiveness and togetherness of this locker room again was apparent, as he delivered an impassioned, tear-jerking speech.
It's difficult to articulate what exactly has occurred over these past for days. There's been two games—both of which played with the Rangers season on the line—that they've won. St. Louis, to his credit, although if he wasn't to play, or had played poorly, would not have been to his detriment, has risen to the occasion, and then some. What the Rangers are building now, regardless of how Game 7 on Tuesday plays out, is bigger than hockey. On rare, special occasions, we're introduced to stories in sports that are bigger than the games. What this means to St. Louis is more than a win or loss, or the potential to compete for his second career Stanley Cup. It's more than scoring goals, proving his worth after a blockbuster trade, or re-writing back page headlines.
When Game 7 rolls around on Tuesday, there will ultimately be a winner and a loser; there's no other way. But St. Louis has already proven he's a winner, and the Rangers have proven the kind of character they have a team by rallying around their new teammate.
It's fitting St. Louis awarded the team's player-of-the-game swag to the entire locker room. The effort for the Rangers that was amiss as it began to loss games against Pittsburgh has been re-found, and not a game too soon. But to do so to honor a horrible tragedy to befall a teammate, to raise your own compete level with your backs completely against the wall, well that's downright special.