One assist and one shot during 12:11 of ice time. That's the final line from Vincent Lecavalier's last game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 27th. Lecavalier wasn't even on the ice at the end, as he was serving a five-minute fighting penalty he had incurred at the 15:46 mark.
Nothing about that final summary is indicative of what Lecavalier meant to the Tampa Bay Lightning during a career that spanned 14 years and produced the Lightning's only Stanley Cup championship along the way.
- 1037 games played
- 383 goals
- 491 assists
- 60 game-winning goals
- 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) ammassed over 63 postseason games
Those are the pertinent stats accumulated on the ice during his career. Similar to the last time the Lightning parted ways with a captain, the release of Dave Andreychuk, it all comes to an end not in front of a sold-out crowd at the Forum but at the end of a pen and the result of a business transaction from which no one derives any joy.
Of course, that's just the on-ice aspect of the matter. A resident of Davis Island, Lecavalier has been a socially active member of the Tampa Bay community. In 2003, he created the Vinny Lecavalier Foundation, and worked with local civic and business leaders to raise funds for various charitable causes, specifically the fight against pediatric cancer, with the crowning achievement being the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital, which opened in 2010.
He was drafted by the Lightning with the number one overall pick in 1998. He was dubbed at the time by then-owner Art Williams as "The Michael Jordan of Hockey". Thankfully, that never really stuck and fans quickly came to know him as Vinny. He wore the jersey #8 at first, due to the #4 with which he would be identified being worn at the time by defenseman Cory Cross. Back then, aside from the obvious skill he displayed on the ice, he looked very much like a kid. His first NHL point came on an assist on October 21, 1998 against the Penguins. He scored his first goal on October 25 against the Canucks. He was NHL Rookie of the Month in February 1999. He took his first shift as team captain on March 11, 2000, the youngest to be named to that position in NHL history.
In the 2001-02 season, he became the first player in team history to record three consecutive seasons of 20 or more goals. In 2003, he got his first taste of the NHL postseason, assisting Martin St. Louis on his game and first-round series winning goal in triple overtime of Game 6 against Washington on April, 20. .And of course, in 2004, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, dispatching the Islanders, Canadiens, and Flyers in early playoff rounds before vanquishing the Calgary Flames in seven games. He was also the MVP of the World Cup winning Canadian team that year. He was an NHL All Star in 2003, 2007, 2008 (team captain) and 2009. He won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2007, as well as the King Clancy Memorial Award and NHL Foundation Player Award in 2008.
It is with heavy hearts and a sense of deep gratitude and appreciation for everything he did for us here in Tampa Bay, both on the ice and off, that we bid adieu to our captain, Vincent "Vinny" Lecavalier.