Le Cup in L'ile

Doug Giravin once again does me a service and sends me two articles from the Montreal Gazette. The first of which happens to be Vincent Lecavalier's day with the Stanley Cup

Lecavalier with Stanley Cup 8 Aug 2004 Ile Bizard Canada.jpg
Lecavalier lifts Stanley Cup in hometown of Ile Bizard

The Montreal Gazette

August 9, 2004

Few island clans have deeper roots than La Famille Lecavalier. They've been on Ile Bizard for over 130 years, before the good ol' hockey game was set to rules and almost as long as Canada has been a country.

Yesterday, hometown hero Vincent Lecavalier returned to the tiny island anchored off the northwestern tip of Montreal and hoisted the Stanley Cup on grounds his great-grandfather, Aime Lecavalier, once farmed a century ago.

Thousands of fans queued, in the rain for a spell, outside the Pavillon Vincent Lecavalier, a municipal recreational building named after the island's most famous son in 2002.

Some waited hours to have their picture taken with the photogenic Tampa Bay Lightning star, clutching the most recognizable trophy in all of sport.

"I used to play outdoor hockey just out back of here," said Lecavalier, motioning to a park at the rear of the building which keeps its wooden hockey boards up year-round - just in case the weather turns bitterly cold next week, the locals joke.

"Knowing that my great grandfather worked this land, makes it all the more special," said Lecavalier, dressed casually in jeans, sandals, a short-sleeve shirt, a Hugo Boss ball cap and a designer wristwatch that surely cost more than Lord Stanley's original challenge Cup.

"My family has been on Ile Bizard forever, it seems. It's where I grew up. It's where I come to spend the summer. I'm glad I'm able to share this day with the people here," he said, flashing a toothy smile that defies his toe-to-toe bout with Flames' Jarome Iginla in the Cup final.

Long before Lecavalier's name was engraved on the Stanley Cup, the family legacy was immortalized on a local street sign.

Buried in the churchyard cemetery, just down the road from the Pavillon Lecavalier, are his great-grandparents and his grandfather, Jean-Paul Lecavalier, a local politician, who passed away in 1992.

Like so many of his generation, Jean-Paul's favourite NHL player was Jean Beliveau, the epitome of class when the phrase wasn't a cliche. Vincent has worn No. 4 in honour of the Canadiens' legendary captain ever since he can remember.

Yvon Lecavalier, Vincent's father, basked in the glow of accomplishment most Canadian hockey parents only dream of. "My father would be so proud today," the retired firefighter said.

Instinctively, Vincent's first stop with the Cup on Saturday was his parent's home.

The basement there has been converted into a hockey shrine to the NHL's first overall draft pick in 1998. "I'm going to have to clear away a few trophies and make room for a Stanley Cup wall now," Yvon boasted.

Pere Lecavalier is at least partly responsible for making Vincent the playmaker he is today.

When Vinny first started playing competitive youth hockey, Yvon Lecavalier noticed other parents often gave their sons a $1 reward for every goal they scored.

"I always gave Vince 50 cents for every goal, and a dollar for every assist," he said. "So he was always looking for teammates when he had the puck."

Today, many loonies later, his 24-year-old son is a hockey millionaire.

While hockey stars like Guy Lafleur, Patrick Roy and Guy Carbonneau have called Ile Bizard home, Lecavalier is the first true local to hoist the Cup.

Rene Lecavalier, who served as island mayor from 1995-99, said yesterday's event was both a public and private celebration. "There are so many Lecavalier cousins, uncles and aunts still living here, it's a big family day for all of us. Vincent has never forgotten his roots."

Well, not always. A police officer remembered babysitting Vincent as a toddler. "But he doesn't remember me now," she said, laughing. "He was a cute boy."

Every Cup event has its favourite photo op and yesterday's might have been when

2-year-old Hugo Lecavalier, Vinny's nephew, was perched ever so carefully in the Cup bowl that has seen its share of P.E.I. lobster lately, courtesy of Lecavalier's teammate Brad Richards.

"Go Tampa go," said little Hugo, as he was scooped up by his father, Philippe Lecavalier, who remarked how much his "little brother" Vincent, now a muscular 6-foot-4 power forward, had come of age this year.

Vincent Lecavalier is thinking about applying for a membership at Royal Montreal golf course, once a bastion of the anglo country-club set on the predominantly francophone island.

"I hope he gets in," said his father. "He loves golf and knows some people there."

Vinny wouldn't be the first champion turned away.

Tiger Woods once missed the Canadian Open cut there, too."