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Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier: I still can be an elite player



Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier has a lot to look forward to this offseason, first and foremost being the birth of his first child next month, a daughter, with longtime girlfriend Caroline Portelance. But Lecavalier, who turned 30 on April 21, also has a comeback on his mind, saying in his exit interview after the season that he still has what it takes to be an elite player in the league. Lecavalier's goal production has slipped every years since he won the 2007 Rocket Richard Trophy with 52. And his 24 goals this season were his fewest since he had 20 in 2001-02.

 On a frustrating year: Yeah, from a personal and team standpoint it has been disappointing. The ultimate goal is to make the playoffs, and on Feb. 9 we were sixth (in the East) and in great position to do it, and we didn't. That's the most frustrating part.But nothing you can do now. It's over and start new, fresh next year with a new coaching staff, a lot of new things. So, like I said, the ultimate goal is to make the playoffs, and we'll try to do that next year.

On being an elite player again: Yeah, definitely. That was three years ago (winning the Richard Trophy). It wasn't 10 years ago. I'm still young. I'm still strong. I'm going to come back next year and try to do it.

On pinpointing last season's troubles: I felt that maybe I could have shot even more. It's really tough to say. I know I say that every single time, but it really is confidence and what you build on. There was so much inconsistency, I never really got into a rhythm. A little bit more after the (Olympic) break, but you don't want to start when there's 20 games left. You want to start at the first of the year. I felt I trained hard last summer and was ready to go. It didn't happen the way I wanted it to.

On Steven Stamkos: What the most impressive thing was what he did the last four or five games; to need all those goals (to get to 50) and get them. That was impressive. When I did it, I had eight or 10 games to get to 50, and for him to do it in the last four or five games, I'm really impressed. Just to do it every night like that was very impressive.

On how the team was run under former owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie and former GM Brian Lawton: I don't really want to comment on that. People run things different ways. When you talk about stability in a team, the last two years there have been a lot of different players. It's tough to start a new year every year with 10, 12, I think there were 17 new players that first year (2008-09). It's tough. We saw that when we did the Cup run. It's all guys who were there a long time, who knew each other and grew together. I think that's what they want to do this time around. They want the stability, and that's a good recipe to win, to have the players jell together and everybody going in the same direction and knowing what they have to do. That's how you win.

On stability: I think that's what Mr. Vinik (new owner Jeff Vinik) will bring to this organization. He'll bring stability. He wants to do things the right way, and I think guys are excited about that.  

On the new baby: It's going to be life-changing, so I'm excited for that. It's perfect timing after a season, and it's going to be fun. People tell me it's going to be life-changing. I heard about the nap times being over and the lack of sleep. I'm ready for that. It's going to be great.

On expected speculation he could be traded: I think this organization won't let it come to speculation. I think they know what they want to do, and I think their first priority is to hire the right people, and I think they're going to do a great job of taking their time and looking at everything when things are in place in the organization. I'm part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I want to be here next year, and that's all. 

[Last modified: Sunday, May 23, 2010 12:15am]


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