Although it might have come as a surprise to some that Tampa winger Martin St. Louis was nominated for the Hart trophy, an award he won back in 2004, it was no surprise to Lightning coach Guy Boucher.
"Well, he deserves it. He deserves it for all the qualities and the type of person he is every day. And the example he is for everybody on our team. He's been an incredible leader," Boucher said.
"There's not one day I can say he wasn't going full out in anything he did. And obviously his impact on the ice was tremendous for this team, and young guys can certainly learn a lot from him," the coach said.
St. Louis also is nominated for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, an award he collected last year that goes to the game's most gentlemanly player. One might think there is a disconnect between the mindset that earns a player the Lady Byng and one that is recognized with the Hart trophy, which goes to the player judged to be most valuable to his team.
Boucher, for one, does not hold to that line of thinking.
"I don't think so. To me it means incredible integrity. There's great sportsmanship, and his importance on the team was tremendous during the entire year. I don't think you can get a better statement than that. And can't get a better role model for kids that are watching the game, especially when you hear of the injuries and what the NHL is trying to get rid of. You've got a guy here that shows up every night and plays a clean game at the same time that he plays a hard game and has that much importance on the ice as he does," Boucher said.
St. Louis told local reporters Thursday that he viewed the nomination as an organizational honor, but Boucher chuckled at the idea.
"Every game you come, you know he's going to be a hard-working guy that's going to put his heart on his sleeves," Boucher said. "He's going to show up every night. I think if he considers it an organizational one, that's good, but I think in the end he's the one that's doing what he's doing on the ice and he deserves all the credit."
Fatigue not a problem for Roloson
Although the Lightning boast the oldest netminder in the playoffs in 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, fatigue doesn't seem to be much of a concern, even coming off a brilliant 36-save performance in Game 7 against Pittsburgh and with the specter of four games in six nights looming in the second round.
"I've had that question asked many times all year long. And it's funny; as the season moves on, he's better and better, so that would be my answer," Boucher said.
"His game preparation, his mental preparation, is outstanding. If you look at the physical aspect, if you're asking to me rank which guys are the most in shape, he's in the top two. He's got the shape and the experience and the mental toughness. Ask me again if we're in the finals of the Stanley Cup, but I think right now in the second round, there's absolutely no worry," the coach said.