Questions and answers with Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier
Tampa Bay Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier on Thursday had his first pre-camp workout at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. Looking fit after a summer workout program dedicated to increasing his speed and explosiveness, but also nursing the final stages of a cold, Lecavalier, who in April had arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist, talked about not being traded, Canada's 2010 Olympic team and how next season's Lightning team has "one mission," to make the playoffs.
Q: Did you follow through this summer on training for quickness?
A: I used interval (training), bike, a lot of running, obviously weights and plyometrics and stuff, but everything fast to teach your body to be faster. I’m a tall guy, so having quick feet is very important.
Q: And you were disappointed about last season, correct?
A: I felt a little tired last year. All your summer training is for your whole season. Because of my shoulder (surgery in April 2008), last summer I didn’t get a chance to do the right training. I think it might have gotten me a little bit tired through the year. I’m happy with the training. Now it’s to get into that game shape. You can run and you can bike all you want, but you’ve got to skate. The more you skate, the more comfortable you get on the ice. Once we start the real practices, the real games, that’s when you get into better shape, for sure.
Q: There was a lot of structure to today’s skate -- drills and sprints.
A: We used to do just a game. It’s good. Guys are taking control of the practices and making sure there’s a little bit of a structure. To play five-on-five, it’s just going to get slower and slower. There aren’t enough guys, and it’s not the right way to do it. Guys are doing drills and sprints to teach their bodies to be quick.
Q: How are your shoulder and wrist?
A: Everything is good. I’ve been doing pretty much whatever I wanted for training. If I played tennis, everything was good. I’m happy with everything. I went to team Canada camp last week and felt pretty good there.
Q: After the craziness of last season’s trade rumors, is it comforting to have a no-move clause in your new contract?
A: Before that, obviously, you never know what can happen. There were a lot of rumors being in Montreal. I don’t know if they were true or not. On July 1 (when the 11-year, $85 million deal kicked in), it all stopped. Now I can just focus on this year and this training camp and I’m happy I don’t have to talk about going somewhere else or where the rumors were bringing me or trading me to. It’s very nice. I’m happy to be here and be part of this team. I’ve always said it, and that’s why I signed a long-term deal, because I want to be part of this team for the remainder of my career. I’m very happy.
Q: Are you surprised you’re still here?
A: Not really, no. It got intense, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t really know. They were just rumors to me.
Q: Is life without trade rumors a relief?
A: I was just tired of talking about it; people coming up to me. I left for a few weeks and it felt good after the season. I didn’t want to hear anything about anything. I wanted to have a little break. Obviously, when I went back to Montreal (before the draft), that started again. But since July 1, it’s been pretty low key. It’s very nice.
Q: How do you feel about the team going into camp?
A: I’m feeling very good. You look at the defensemen we have. By getting these veteran guys who have a lot of experience, it all starts there. They have more experience in the zone and playing defensively. They can get the puck out, which will help us offensively. To get those big defensive guys, it’s going to change the look of the team, definitely.
Q: There were lots of changes last year, too. Is it similar or different?
A: Last year everything was new for everybody, from ownership to the players, everything was new. I got in the dressing room and, I mean, I felt like I was traded somewhere else. There were all different people. It was an experience. I think we learned a lot from last year, and coming back this year, everybody is motivated. I don’t think it was acceptable what happened last year. Guys are determined to change it and turn it around.
Q: Any more thoughts on the Vinny Prospal buyout?
A: I was very disappointed. Vinny and I go way back. He’s a very god friend of mine. His family loved it here. It’s always sad to see somebody leave. He’s a friend. It’s like anything. When you lose a buddy and he goes somewhere else, a great family, great kids, it’s tough to see him leave.
Q: How excited are you to play with Alex Tanguay?
A: He’s excited. He wants to have a good year. To play with a good passer like that and, from what I hear, he’s never satisfied, even if he has a great game, so that’s good to have a guy like that who rally pushes to excel. That’s what I call a winner, a guy who’s never satisfied. I think he’s going to help our team. He’s going to be a big part of the team, for sure.
Q: Is the ownership situation a distraction?
A: Of course we talk about it. If you see and hear things and read things in the papers, guys will talk about it. We can’t make it a distraction. That’s one thing that maybe crept in the room last year. We’ve got one mission this year and that’s to win. To start talking about everything else that’s going on outside the locker room, that’s not good, so we’re going to tighten up the group here with the coaches to have one mission and that’s to make the playoffs.
Q: How do you feel about being characterized as “on the bubble” for Canada’s 2010 Olympic team?
A: Well, I think they put four, five guys down as making the team and everybody else is fighting for a spot, so that’s good. It makes for good competition and that shows how good Team Canada is going to be. It’s a deep team. There are a lot of good players. I went to camp and the two teams that were there were two pretty good teams, so it’s just going to motivate me more for this year. I want to be part of that team, but it all starts with Tampa and how I do here. They’re going to be looking at all the games. I can’t control other things, but I can control what I do on the ice. I’ll do my best. After that, it’s out of my hands.