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After missing 18 games with a broken hand, Vincent Lecavalier returns for final six

Mar 28, 2012, 5:43 PM EDT

Vincent Lecavalier Getty Images

When Vincent Lecavalier was last in the lineup (Feb. 18), the Lightning were just six points out of a playoff spot with 24 games to go.

Now that he’s ready to return, the Lightning are nine points out with just six to play.

Which begs the question: Why is Lecavalier coming back?

It’s simple, says the Tampa Bay captain — he wants to play hockey.

“The guys have been working so hard, as soon as I’m ready I want to play,” Lecavalier told TampaBay.com. “Even if there’s seven, five, three games.”

There are two ways of looking at this. One is that, as the team’s captain and highest-paid player, Lecavalier has a responsibility to play so long as he’s healthy. He’s a huge part of the team — prior to getting hurt he was having a solid year (21G-25A-46PTS in 58 games) and averaging over 19 minutes per game.

Then, throw in the fact head coach Guy Boucher all but demanded a return (“Our mentality is every game we want to put our best team on the ice,” he said) and you can see why Lecavalier’s set to play Thursday against the Devils.

But there’s another way of looking at this, and it has to do with “so long as he’s healthy.” The broken bone in Lecavalier’s hand is not a new issue. He had surgery on this same non-displaced fracture last season and admitted this latest injury took longer to heal than expected.

Outside of possibly helping Steve Stamkos get to 60 goals, one has to wonder what’s the upshot for Lecavalier’s return. Though he only turns 32 in April, he’s a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, played nearly 1,000 games and has nagging hand injury. Is the risk associated with his return greater than any potential reward?

  1. gotampabay52 - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Way to be Vinney play and play never stop we will be there next year with a goalie

  2. govtminion - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    “OK guys, I know I’ve been away for a while, but I’m ready to get back to work. Let’s put in our best effort and get that last playoff spot, and we- why are you all staring at me like that? What’s wrong? Why… why is Ryan Malone crying?”

  3. GenoPringles - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Ryan Malone never cries. He is from the city of champions. Vinny is a joke. That hand probably broke when he tried to sucker punch the steel jaw of Geno Pringles Can Malkin.

  4. tampabayirish - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Vinny is the team captain. Good leaders lead from the front, not from safety of the press box. Every game is supposed to mean something. If you are healthy, and you are one of the team’s top players, you should be on the ice.

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