Jun 27, 2013, 1:06 PM EST
That decision was presumably made based on the reality of their salary cap situation and Lecavalier’s decline from a superstar to merely great player over the last several years. However this decision couldn’t have been an easy one for Tampa Bay given all that he’s done for them over the years.
With that in mind, we’d highlight some of Lecavalier’s biggest moments and accomplishments with the Lightning:
– When Lecavalier entered the league, it was amid incredible hype. That’s true of any first overall pick, but even by those standards, the way Lecavalier was built up was unique. Then Lightning owner Arthur Williams described the 18-year-old Lecavalier as a guy who could become the Michael Jordan of hockey.
“He’s absolutely our future,” Williams said back then, according to Sports Illustrated. “He’s the poster boy. He’s the person that we sort of build around. He has that kind of talent and that kind of ability. Thank the Lord we had the No. 1 pick.”
– Lecavalier became the team captain for the 2000-01 campaign, but he ended up losing the ‘C.’ By 2001-02, he had some good seasons, but nothing near what the team had expected. Things came to a head in Dec. 2001 when he demanded a trade. That campaign ended up being arguably the worst of his career.
– His career started to take off in a big way after that disastrous season. He recorded a then career-high 78 points in 2002-03 and helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2004.
– He set a pair of single-season franchise records in 2006-07 with 52 goals (which Steven Stamkos has since surpassed) and 108 points. He also became the first — but not the last — Lightning player to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. The following season he had 40 goals and 92 points in 81 games.
– Those seasons were what convinced the Lightning to ink Lecavalier to the contract they just bought out.
“Not only is Vincent one of the most dynamic players in the NHL, he’s one of the classiest people you’ll ever meet off the ice as well,” vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said at the time, according to TSN. “With this deal our ownership has made it clear that he is the cornerstone of the Lightning, and Vincent has shown his dedication to the franchise and the Tampa Bay area by signing for less than he undoubtedly would’ve received on the open market. This is a great day for all Lightning fans.”
He also regained his title as the team’s captain mere months after the contract became official.
– Since signing that deal, he’s never recorded more than 70 points in a season. He’s remained an effective top-six forward, but his accomplished have been drowned out by the expectations associated with that massive contract.
– On Jan. 21, 2013, Lecavalier played in his 1,000th career game. He was just the fifth former first overall pick to ever reach that milestone with the team that selected him.
– Lecavalier is the team’s all-time leader in games played and goals. He also ranks second behind Martin St. Louis in points with 874.
Dec 9, 2013, 9:56 PM EST
There’s a chance Zbynek Michalek could be back, though.
Dec 9, 2013, 9:27 PM EST
Rare bout for both.
Dec 9, 2013, 8:55 PM EST
Quite a way to end Columbus’ 162-minute shutout streak.
Dec 9, 2013, 8:42 PM EST
NHL’s Board of Governors ratified the Canadian TV deal.
Dec 9, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
“Well that’s just super,” the Blue Jackets probably didn’t say.
Dec 9, 2013, 7:31 PM EST
“There are other ways to respond.”
Dec 9, 2013, 6:53 PM EST
Adding some toughness.
Dec 9, 2013, 5:45 PM EST
Red Wings actually fared well in his absence.
Dec 9, 2013, 5:15 PM EST
Jon Cooper knows it could be a lot worse.
Dec 9, 2013, 4:25 PM EST
“We’re pretty frustrated,” said Ryan McDonagh.
Dec 9, 2013, 3:55 PM EST
Anaheim’s coming off two impressive wins over the ‘Hawks and Blues.
Dec 9, 2013, 3:17 PM EST
Tough times in the Chicago goal.
Dec 9, 2013, 2:45 PM EST
All the latest from the blue paint…
Dec 9, 2013, 2:44 PM EST
They’re in Anaheim to play the Ducks tonight.
Dec 9, 2013, 2:08 PM EST
Sounds like it could be.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
And the players and coach seem to agree with the chart.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:37 PM EST
He’s been up, he’s been down.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:16 PM EST
The first punishment handed down from Saturday’s ugly Pittsburgh-Boston affair.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:47 PM EST
‘Canes play tonight in Vancouver and tomorrow in Edmonton.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:29 PM EST
Bit of a dream season for the 27-year-old hometown boy.
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head 149
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 97
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 119
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 8
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 15
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand 89
- Shawn Thornton confirms hearing with NHL Department of Player Safety (Updated) 88
- Video: Penguins’ Neal knees Bruins’ Marchand 69
- Penguins announce Brooks Orpik ‘alert and conscious’ (Updated) 47
- Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’ 78
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (181)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (149)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (128)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (119)
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller (97)