The question was easy for Martin St. Louis to answer.

Asked what his mother might think about his playing in the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers forward offered a quiet, simple response.

"She'd be pretty happy about that," he said.

The story of St. Louis and his mom has become inextricably linked to the story of the Rangers as they face the Kings in Game 1 of the Final at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

It was just a month ago that the Rangers were getting off a plane in Pittsburgh. They had fallen behind the Penguins, 3-1, in the second-round series, so St. Louis wasn't feeling great to begin with.

Then came news that France St. Louis had died of a heart attack at age 63.

"That was tough for him to go through," General Manager Glen Sather said. "Tough for all of us."

The remarkable thing, the part that makes this story special, happened next.

The entire team rallied around St. Louis. Players and coaches took a day off — in the middle of the playoffs — to attend the funeral in Laval, Canada. And something changed on the ice.

"It was just a very emotional time," St. Louis said. "We really fed off that."

Talking about his mother at Stanley Cup media day on Tuesday, the veteran could not help welling up the slightest bit as he recalled how she had helped shape his life.

If his dad taught him to work hard, France added a little something extra.

"This was a 4-foot-11 lady that would just look at me straight in the eyes and she would tell me to chase my dream," he said.

That dream carried him into the NHL, first with the Calgary Flames and then for a 13-year stretch with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2004.

Along the way, the 5-foot-8 left-hander amassed more than 400 goals. Through the first 62 games of the regular season, he had 61 points, ranking him among the best in the league.

But his relationship with General Manager Steve Yzerman became touchy and he could feel the clock ticking on his career. He wanted one more shot at the title.

Tampa Bay acquiesced to a trade, sending him to New York at the deadline in early March. As part of the deal, the Rangers dealt away captain Ryan Callahan.

"I knew that when we got Marty, that we got a strong leader in his own right," Sather said.

Still, walking into a new locker room after so many years was not easy, even for a six-time All-Star.

"I had to go into a place and earn the respect of my teammates," St. Louis said. "I don't think respect is given."