Lecavalier reiterates: I want to stay in Tampa
At this point, it can't be much more definitive that the Lightning and superstar Vinny Lecavalier will try to work out some sort of long-term deal, perhaps one that will keep him with Tampa Bay for the rest of his career. It is strongly believed that is what incoming owner Oren Koules wants. Lecavalier said last season he was open to a contract extension. Agent Kent Hughes said last week it was his understanding the team wants Lecavalier to be a lifer. And Lecavalier reiterated on Tuesday his desire to stay in Tampa.
"Definitely, yeah," he said when asked if he was open to ending his career with the Lightning. "I like Tampa and I want to be in Tampa for a long time."
Lecavalier, rehabbing his right shoulder in Montreal, had lots to say Tuesday, most of it about former coach John Tortorella. Read the whole story in Wednesday's paper, but, briefly, Lecavalier said he believes Tortorella is a good coach and a good person, but was very hard on younger players.
"He was very tough on young players," Lecavalier said. "His emotions sometimes made it difficult. I'm not saying that in a bad way. That's the type of coach he is. He is very aggressive, very emotional and very into the game."
It is an important point. The Lightning next season will again be very young in several key areas. The defense likely will include Alex Picard, 22; Shane O'Brien, 24; and Mike Lundin, 23. Goalie Mike Smith is 26 but has never played a full season as a No. 1. And Steve Stamkos, at 18, likely will be asked to start the season as the second-line center.
Asked how Tortorella would have meshed with the lineup, Lecavalier said, "It could be good for some and not so good for others. Everybody knows how Torts is, and after a few years you get to understand it a little bit more. But he's very demanding on young players, and I don't think everybody takes him the same way, which is normal. Everybody reacts differently to different situations. Some guys don't react well to that."
Lecavalier spoke more about his relationship with Tortorella, and also mentioned how the rehab on his right shoulder is on schedule and anticipates being ready to participate in training camp, though he is not expected to be cleared for full contact before September. He also said the rehab scuttled his plans for a trip to China and Thailand, a real disappointment for such a world traveler.