The writing has been on the wall since well before compliance buyouts were included in the last round of CBA talks. The Tampa Bay Lightning bought out Captain Vincent Lecavalier today. This was a move that may saw coming, but was still no less shocking when it was announced.
“After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out,’ general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us.”
No one can question what Vincent Lecavalier brought to this team during his time in Tampa both on and off the ice, but he is a player that was the victim of unfortunate contract situation. A player who, at no fault of his own, signed a bad contract that made today a reality.
As unpopular as this move may be, the Lightning and Steve Yzerman needed to make it to move forward. Many make the argument that Yzerman will need to pay a player to replace the production Lecavalier brought to the table. But over the past five seasons, the reality is Lecavalier has been a 70 point player, or on pace for 70 points in the lockout shortened season, just once.
Yes, injuries have played a huge part of those numbers at times, but at the end of the day, in a business that is about results more than anything else, it is hard to justify a 7 million dollar cap hit for a player that just is not putting up the points that he once did.
At the end of the day, this was a business decision that had to be made. Steve Yzerman knew this would not be popular, but his only concern, as has been mentioned previously in this space, is to win, and if this move leads to more wins in the long run, then no one can argue it.
This move also makes it possible for the Lightning to be a player in free agency if they so choose and it also avoids the cap recapture rules the Lightning would have faced if Lecavalier did not play out the final years of his contract, something that probably did not get enough attention as we led up to this process.
As hard as it is to see this move happen for many, it is something that made too much sense from the business side to pass up, at the fault of no one involved in the situation.