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Tampa Bay Lightning

Vinny: Life and times of a Lightning legend

Published:   |   Updated: June 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM

A HISTORY IN QUOTES

"When I got here today, I had butterflies in my stomach. I'm really relieved that everything's over and I got picked No. 1.''

- Vinny Lecavalier after being drafted No.1 overall by the Lightning in 1998

"I don't know what to say - go ask the coach what I did wrong.''

- Lecavalier after being benched by John Tortorella for the final period of a 5-4 loss at Buffalo on Feb.25, 2001

"I will not be the answer to the trivia question: Name the GM who traded Vincent Lecavalier."

- former Lightning GM Jay Feaster in March 2002

"I always say it comes back to that idiot owner (Art Williams) calling him the Michael Jordan of hockey. And then the entourage behind him and he's on magazine covers. It's tough for a kid to understand and handle all this stuff.''

- Tortorella on Lecavalier's struggles in December 2002

"He's fun to watch. It's tremendous to see someone who plays at times like Guy Lafleur or Bobby Orr. People like that are great for the game.''

-Wayne Gretzky after Lecavalier sparked the Lightning to a Game 2 victory against Calgary in the 2004 finals

"Every time I look at it, I can think about how we did it. It's awesome.''

- Lecavalier after the Lightning edged the Flames 2-1 in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup

"People were wrong. I'm here and I'm not going anyplace.''

- Lecavalier in September 2005

"We're not going to trade Vinny Lecavalier. I'm going to say 'never' so I don't have to deal with it.''

- Lightning GM Brian Lawton on Feb. 23, 2009

"If they deal Vinny, it'll be because of money. There's no other way to spin it.''

- Lightning founder Phil Esposito on June 23, 2009

"There was a lot of consideration and it's not something I enjoy, or we enjoy doing. It's an inevitable part of the business. But we recognize and were concerned that we have a player that was an original draft pick and a very popular player, so that makes it more difficult. Unfortunately, with the new CBA, the salary cap puts us in a position to have to look at that type of thing, to assess that in the long term for the organization."

- Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman on Thursday, after announcing the team would buy out Lecavalier's contract

"Today is a tough day. It's tough to explain, but it really is a tough day for us."

- Lecavalier on Thursday, after learning his tenure in Tampa Bay was over after 14 seasons

THE HIGHS

Lecavalier's first NHL goal came in his eighth pro game as he batted a puck past Garth Snow during a 3-2 victory against Vancouver on Oct. 25, 1998.

In Game 3 of a 2004 second-round playoff series against Montreal, Lecavalier tied the score with 16.5 seconds remaining in regulation by redirecting a puck past Jose Theodore with the blade of his stick between his legs. "I've never practiced that - not even on an outdoor pond," Lecavalier said after Tampa Bay won in overtime en route to a four-game sweep of his hometown Canadiens.

Lecavalier dropped the gloves against Calgary's Jarome Iginla at the 6:17 mark of Game 3 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals. After Lecavalier held his own against one of the league's better fighters, Tortorella was seen applauding behind the Lightning bench. "As far as the fight was concerned, I thought that was good stuff by Vinny," Tortorella said. "If it happened again, I think it would be terrific."

In Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals against Calgary, Lecavalier assisted on Ruslan Fedotenko's winning goal.

Only three months after lifting the Stanley Cup trophy, Lecavalier's goal at 3:45 of overtime lifted Canada past the Czech Republic 4-3 and into the final of the World Cup of Hockey. "Scoring in OT for your country is going to be high on my list during my career," Lecavalier said in September 2004.

On March 30, 2007, Lecavalier became Tampa Bay's first 50-goal scorer as his backhander was deflected by Carolina D David Tanabe past Cam Ward in a 4-2 triumph. "It was obviously really fluky," Lecavalier said. "But it seems like it's always like that, something fluky."

In the 2006-07 season, Lecavalier turned in his most prolific scoring effort. He led the league with 52 goals and had 56 assists and 108 points - all career highs.

On Jan. 21, 2013, Lecavalier played in his 1,000th career game, at the New York Islanders. A few days later, his accomplishment was celebrated with a pregame ceremony in Tampa during which he was presented with the traditional silver stick by the league. "It's definitely a great honor to be a part of this organization for so long, and today to have family and friends and everybody here in Tampa, it's a great honor," Lecavalier said.

Lecavalier's last goal in a Lightning uniform was on April 18 at Montreal with 5:07 left in the third period.

THE LOWS

After ending his preseason holdout and reporting to the Lightning on Oct. 6, 2001, Lecavalier was stripped of his captaincy. "I know this hurts Vinny, but this is being done with his best interest in mind,'' said coach John Tortorella, who replaced Steve Ludzik behind the bench nine months earlier.

In November 2003, Tortorella benched Lecavalier for the final 15:42 of the second period in a 1-1 tie at Boston. "An awful call,'' Lecavalier said. "I'm just going to keep playing hard. If I get benched for it, that's fine.''

Lecavalier suffered a separated shoulder in April 2008 against Washington that required surgery and hampered him during the early stages of the 2008-09 season. He also had surgery that summer on his left wrist.

In April 2009, Lecavalier again had wrist surgery, ending his season.

HONORS AND AWARDS

* Stanley Cup championship in 2004

* Four-time NHL All-Star - 2003, 2007, 2008 (captain), 2009

* 2006-07 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as NHL's leading goal-scorer with 52

* 2008 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community

* 2009 NHL Foundation Player Award, awarded annually by the NHL to the player who applies the core values of hockey - commitment, perseverance and teamwork - to enrich the lives of people in his community.

* On cover of EA Sports' NHL 06 video game.

DIGITS

33 - Points in 45 Stanley Cup playoff games

Minus-117 - Career plus-minus mark

27 - multi-goal games

23 - Average goals per season for first five seasons

22 - Average goals per season for last five seasons

16 - Points in 30 games for Russia's Ak Bars Kazan in 2004-05

4 - Jersey number Lecavalier wears to honor his idol, Canadiens Hall of Fame C Jean Beliveau

IN THE COMMUNITY

In 2005, the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation was launched to support local children's hospitals and charities. Two years later, Lecavalier donated $3 million to All-Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg for a facility to be named the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center.

CAREER STATISTICS

GP G A Pts. PIM +/- PP SH GW

1998-99 82 13 15 28 -19 23 2 0 2

1999-00 80 25 42 67 -25 43 6 0 3

2000-01 68 23 28 51 -26 66 7 0 3

2001-02 76 20 17 37 -18 61 5 0 3

2002-03 80 33 45 78 0 39 11 2 3

2003-04 81 32 34 66 23 52 5 2 6

2005-06 80 35 40 75 0 90 13 2 7

2006-07 82 52 56 108 2 44 16 5 7

2007-08 81 40 52 92 -17 89 10 1 7

2008-09 77 29 38 67 -9 54 10 1 6

2009-10 82 24 46 70 -16 63 5 0 3

2010-11 65 25 29 54 -5 43 12 0 5

2011-12 64 22 27 49 -2 50 5 0 5

2012-13 39 10 22 32 -5 29 5 0 0

Totals 1,037 383 491 874 -117 746 112 13 60

PLAYOFF STATISTICS

GP G A Pts. PIM +/- PP SH GW

2002-03 11 3 3 6 -2 22 1 0 1

2003-04 23 9 7 16 -2 25 2 0 0

2005-06 5 1 3 4 0 7 1 0 0

2006-07 6 5 2 7 4 10 1 0 1

2010-11 18 6 13 19 6 16 3 0 3

Totals 63 24 28 52 6 80 8 0 5

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