Exit interview: Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier says next season's club will be "on a mission"
Like many, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier had more questions than answers about what went wrong this season. But Lecavalier was optimistic GM Steve Yzerman will make the right moves over the summer and the players will be in a better frame of mind to start 2012-13. As for the sleepy power play? Who knows, he said.
On not going to playoffs: I think a lot of guys had 20 goals and one guy (Steven Stamkos) had 60, so it’s pretty incredible. It just means that everyone has to do more next year. It’s not where we want to be, obviously, especially after going to the conference finals (in 2010-11). I don’t know if we were looser at the beginning of the year, but if definitely won’t be the same next year. We’re going to come in camp and focus and be on a mission, the way it should be.
On paying attention to GM Steve Yzerman’s summer moves: I mean, we’ll definitely be watching. He knows what he’s doing and they’re probably preparing already for July 1 and who to look for and who to get, so I’m not worried where this organization is going because they’re doing all the right things. They’re making really good decisions.
On team being far off from being a contender: I don’t think it is. We played well at the end of the year. I don’t think we are far off. I think it was a lack of confidence the first half of the year. It was a different team the second half of the year. Since January we were a way better team. I believe in what the organization is doing and everybody wants a better year next year, individually. Everybody wants to do more. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. With so much fun we had the year before, it’s tough to have kind of the opposite this year, struggling the whole year and always being 10th, ninth, 11th, 12th (in the conference). You don’t want to be there. You want to be part of it. I think that’s what’s going to make us better next year. We’re going to be focused right away and have one goal in mind, making the playoffs.
On the team’s poor road record: I don’t know what the problem was. It’s hard to put your finger on it. We were a lot on the road. That’s probably the biggest thing is being better on the road. At home I thought we were great and we just have to bring that to the road. It would have been a different story. Our start to the year, the first two months we were pretty much on the road the whole time. If you don’t win a lot on the road the first two months, it’s tough to climb back in.
On difference between success at home and less on the road: I don’t know. I wish I knew. I don’t know if we started off the year and maybe didn’t play well the first few games and it kind of snowballed. It’s like anything. It’s like winning at home. You start winning a few at home and you’re confident. It went the other way on the road. It’s tough to know what the why is, but it’s definitely something that has to change.
On Stamkos’ 60 goals as a bright spot: It definitely was. I mean, Stammer’s season, 50 is incredible, 55 is even better and when you get to 60, it’s exclusive. There haven’t been too many guys who have done that. To think that he scored six goals out of every eight games is incredible. He has a great shot but it’s more than that. He knows where to be. You can’t teach that. It’s a talent that he has and I think he’ll have many, many more years of 50 goals. He’s definitely going to help this team for a very long time.
On power play woes: I don’t know. It gets to confidence. You score a few times, but it never really took off. At the end of the year we were a lot better, but we didn’t start the right way. Obviously, that’s a big part of winning games. I really don’t know what it was, whether we weren’t getting enough pucks to the net. Sometimes it was our entries. It wasn’t going our way, next year it will. I wish I had something to say that was deeper.
On the league’s labor situation: Yeah, it’s definitely not fun, but that’s the business part of it. It happened before. We thought it was going to be a week and it ended up being the whole year, so hopefully everybody gets talking and everybody has a good deal, the players and the owners.