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Grieving Martin St. Louis returns for Game 5

Martin St. Louis handles the puck in the

Martin St. Louis handles the puck in the corner against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the second round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 02, 2014 in Pittsburgh. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin K. Aller

The morning after the sudden death of his mother, Martin St. Louis and his father, Normand, made a decision: Marty would fly from Montreal to Pittsburgh and play in a must-win Game 5 for the Rangers.

The team learned Thursday afternoon when they arrived here that France St. Louis, 63, died from a heart attack. "We sent him right home to Montreal," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "It was obviously a very, very quiet bus ride from the airport to the hotel."

Vigneault and St. Louis, 38, a well-respected NHL star who grew up in Laval, near Montreal and was traded to the Rangers from Tampa, on March 5, texted last night and the coach said: "This morning he said that he and his dad agreed that his mom would want him to be here."

 
So St. Louis, whose jersey was hung at his locker after an optional morning skate, flew back here. 

"We had a good talk last night," Vigneault said, "and my message to him was, 'There are more important things than hockey, you have to do what's right and take care of your dad,' but they got up this morning, they talked and sorted it out."
 
No players were immediately available for comment before the game, but Vigneault said: "I think that says an awful lot about him, and it says a lot about his teammates that he'd want to be here and play tonight."

St. Louis had two goals and four assists in the first five games of the Flyers series, and is pointless in the six games since.

As MVP in 2004,  a two-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the top scorer in the NHL and a three-time recipient of the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and dedication, St. Louis is well-respected throughout the league.

“It’s tough, you never like to hear news like that,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “I had the opportunity to play with Marty in the (Sochi) Olympics and get to know him. Great guy, he competes hard, and I’m sure it’s not easy. So we’re definitely thinking about him.”

New York Sports