Lecavalier #4 Joins St. Louis #26 In The Rafters
The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Vincent Lecavalier with the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NHL Draft. He had 949 points (421 goals, 528 assists) in 1,212 games with the Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and Kings.
The four-time All-Star won the Stanley Cup in 2004 and the Maurice Richard Trophy as the League’s top goal-scorer with 52 in 2006-07, when he set a Lightning record with 108 points. Lecavalier’s 383 goals are also a Tampa Bay record.
Prior to the game on Saturday night, the Lightning officially retired his number and raised it to the rafters alongside teammate Marty St. Louis’ number 26.
Lecavalier thanked his parents saying that his first team was at home. “The first time my dad put me on a team when I was 2 and a half there was nowhere else I wanted to be.” He credits his dad for taking the time to get him from the local rinks to the games across town. He told his father, “As I reflect on my beginnings in this game I turn to you because you were always there for me.”
The person he credits for really holding things together was his mom. “She supported her children the way only a mother can.” He said. “I can finally understand the sacrifices she made and the selflessness that allowed me to leave home at 14 years old.”
Lecavalier and Richards:
Vinny first met Brad Richards when they were in High School. “We both got to Saskatchewan when we were 14 years old. Both moved away from home that year to begin our hockey careers and became best friends.
“We stayed up late at night sharing our dreams of one day playing in the NHL and winning a Stanley Cup together. Not only were we lucky enough to play on the same team in Quebec but our fates were joined once again being both drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning and went on to win our Stanley Cup.”
Kidding With St. Louis:
In a more humorous moment, Lecavalier poked fun at Marty St. Louis. “You have absolutely nothing to be concerned about tonight. I know your jersey was slightly smaller than mine, but I got confirmation yesterday that the banners are only made in one size.”
Feaster On Smoothing Things With Tortorella:
Jay Feaster was the General Manager of the Lightning’s Stanley Cup Championship Team. He credits Lecavalier for his success. “I am very grateful to speak tonight, for in many ways I owe Vinny Lecavalier my career as a NHL General Manager and for the success I enjoyed here.”
It wasn’t always easy for Vinny in Tampa as he clashed with head coach John Tortorella. Feaster told the story.
“He played for three head coaches in his first three years here. His third coach was John Torterella. It was a little bumpy at the beginning. In the middle of the 2001-2002 season I was named GM – in part, because I was not in favor of trading Vinny and because I believe we had never tried to manage the situation between Vinny and John.
“As I told team President Ron Campbell who hired me and John and Vinny at the time, ‘my legacy as Lightning GM was not going to be the guy who traded Vincent Lecavalier. But I also wasn’t going to fire Torts because I believed he was the right guy to coach our team. To their credit Torts and Vinny found that common ground over time. As we all know, the rest is beautiful history.”
Esposito On Drafting Lecavalier:
In 1998 I went to a place called Rimouski Quebec. It was very cold. I was with the scouts and we were looking at Vinny Lecavallier because some of our scouts were talking about another guy. After the first period I said, ‘why are we wasting time? Lecavalier is going to be our pick. Not only is he going to be our pick, I want to get that other guy that plays with him Brad Richards.
Jeff Vinik On A Hard Decision:
Jeff Vinik had the dubious distinction of being the owner who bought out Vinny Lecavalier’s contract. One of the hardest decisions in franchise history.
“In 2013 we, Steve Yzerman, myself, and this franchise had to make a very difficult decision. We elected at that time to buy out Vinny’s contract. A very hard thing to do. I would argue one of the hardest things for this franchise because Vinny had given so much to the Lightning and the Tampa Bay Community in his 14 years here.
“I hate to bring up this topic, but I do it, because in a way the way Vinny handled those circumstances, not just with the business of hockey but far more important, as Jay has already noted with class, with professionalism. That embodies Vinny. The way he played, the way he is as a person. What a great example to his children and children everywhere.”