Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier to get silver stick from team for 1,000th game
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier played his 1,000th NHL game Monday in Uniondale, N.Y., against the Islanders. In fact, when Lecavalier faces the Senators Friday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, he will be playing game 1,002.
The Lightning will use the team's first home game since Lecavalier reached his milestone to honor him with a traditional inscribed silver stick to be presented before the game in an eight-minute ceremony in which Lecavalier also will receive gifts from teammates.
Seems right as Lecavalier, the No. 1 overall pick of the 1998 draft, has played all his games with Tampa Bay. The center is one of only five No. 1 picks to reach 1,000 games with their drafting club. The others are Mike Modano (Minnesota/Dallas) with 1,459; Gil Perreault (Buffalo) with 1,191; Denis Potvin (Islanders) with 1,060; and Chris Phillips (Ottawa) with 1,020.
"I like the fact that it's the same organization," coach Guy Boucher said of Lecavalier's 1,000 games. "To be able to stay in our organization, it says a lot about loyalty to the people and how important they can be to the community and the team. It's about more than playing 1,000 games. It's about playing here, committing here as a hockey player. I hope people will give it back to him because he's done it all here. It's impressive."
Lecavalier, 32, in his 14th season, has started fast with a goal and four points in his first three games. More importantly, he has fully committed on defense and has increased his physical play. At 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, he also is simply stronger thanks to a revamped summer workout program that focused on lower back, glutes and hamstrings, and increasing his vertical leap (which team trainer Mark Lambert said helps increase speed.
"He's doing it all right now," Boucher said. "For me, and I've been here three years, he had the best training camp I've ever seen. He's the most in-shape he's been with me and dedicated to the winning things, not the flashy things. It's very noticeable for everybody. He's leading as a captain."
As for Lecavalier, reaching 1,000 with the Lightning -- he lives more than half the year in Tampa and has relocated his parents there -- is most special.
"I tell everybody, I feel Tampa is my home now," Lecavalier said. "I want to be here forever."
Other news and notes from today's practice: Anders Lindback will start in net Friday against the Senators. "We have a young goalie who needs to see some ice," Boucher said. ... Boucher sometimes likes to split the season into five-game segments. But the coach said that is not the plan with the five-game homestand that begins against Ottawa. "I want to focus on one game. That's my first words this morning in my speeches. It's not a five-game homestand. If you look at it like that you fall into a little comfort zone and feel good. We don't think of the rest. We have to take care of (Friday). Keep it small." ... For those who think the path take by Cory Conacher and Marty St. Louis was similar because both are undersized players, think again, Boucher said. "They're different guys," he said. "As smaller guys they had to have incredible character to battle through all the adversity you can imagine to get here and stay here. But the two eras are different. I don't want to take anything away from Cory, but Marty St. Louis did it in an era when almost no smaller guys made it. What he's done then was unreal. The rules have changed now. That's why you see more smaller guys. The can opener we used to cal it, the stick between the legs, you couldn't do anything. I played in that era. The guy is coming at you and he has your jersey and his stick between your legs and no penalty. So, Marty had to play through that back then and not be himself in terms of offense and slowly build that up. Cory comes in and he can be himself. I'm not saying it's easy, but what Marty did back then was almost unreal."