Vinny Lecavalier ready for 'special' Lightning alumni game
On Thursday, Vinny Lecavalier put on a Lightning jersey for the first time in four years.
But first, the former Lightning captain went hunting.
Those are the spoils of being a retired player.
“Just nice to be outdoors,” he said. “Something different to do.”
Saturday will be different, too. Lecavalier, 36, will be back on the ice at Amalie Arena at 5 p.m. for the Lightning alumni game against former Bruins’ players at Amalie Arena. It’s part of the third annual Hockey Day in Tampa Bay, with other events including high school championships, sled hockey game and street hockey tournaments. All proceeds from event ($10 in advance, $15 at the door), proceed the Jason Ritchie Foundation and Lightning sled hockey.
But the main event will be the alumni, game, with Lecavalier joined by the likes of Dave Andreychuk, Ruslan Fedotenko and Chris Dingman. The Bruins are bringing Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. It’ll be just the third time Lecavalier has played since retiring at the end of last season. With more alumni staying in Tampa Bay, there should be more activities down the road.
“I’m excited,” Lecavalier said. “It’s nice to see all the guys together. It’s a special group. I see one guy here, one guy there, but never everyone there together in the lockeroom. It’s definitely something special. Should be fun.”
Lecavalier is at peace with his retirement after nearly two decades in the NHL. His favorite part is being on the ice with son, Gabriel, 5, teaching him the game. His two other kids are girls, Victoria and Amelia. “It’s been the best,” Lecavalier said. “Sometimes I teach (Gabriel) things, I’m thinking he’s not listening, but then he’ll do it in a game two days later, so it’s fun to see.”
Is it weird to be considered alumni?
“It is weird,” he said. “The first meeting in October, it’s like, this is where you realize that you’re not playing anymore.”
The Lightning honored Lecavalier Oct. 18 by welcoming him back in a special pre-game ceremony. You wonder when Tampa Bay will officially retire Lecavalier’s number, like it did last month with Marty St. Louis.
“Until they tell you, you never know,” Lecavalier said. “It was such a great honor to be a little part of Marty’s career and hopefully it’ll be a great honor to have your jersey retired. But the future can tell.”
Lecavalier is surprised to see the current Lightning still out of the playoff picture. Like many, Lecavalier considered Tampa Bay a strong Stanley Cup contender in the preseason. And Lecavalier still believes his old team can make the playoffs.
“They can’t be in that mode of feeling sorry for themselves,” Lecavalier said. “They’ve got a nice break here, perfect timing for a break. Now it’s time to push and have one goal in mind, that’s making the playoffs.
“If they get in, they have a great chance of winning. They’ve just got to get there.”
HOCKEY DAY IN TAMPA BAY SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18
9 a.m. - Start of Chase Street Lightning Tournament
12 p.m. - Gear Sale Doors Open
12:30 p.m. - Regular Doors Open
1-2:15 p.m. - Sled Hockey Game with Lightning Alumni
2:45-4 p.m. - Honda LHSHL All-Star Game
4-4:30 p.m. - Lightning Made Skills Competition
5-6:30 p.m. - Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins Alumni Game
7-8:30 p.m. - LHSHL Championship Game
Tickets to Hockey Day in Tampa Bay are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. All proceeds for the event will go to the Jason Ritchie Foundation and Lightning Sled Hockey.
Lightning alumni roster: Dmitry Afanasenkov, Nikita Alexeev, Dave Andreychuk (C), Jassen Cullimore, Rob DiMaio, Chris Dingman, Ruslan Fedotenko, Vincent Lecavalier (C), Freddy Modin (A), Vinny Prospal Andre Roy, Tim Taylor (C), Paul Ysebaert (C)
Head coach: Phil Esposito
Bruins alumni roster: Andrew Alberts, Ray Bourque, Cleon Daskalakis, Ken Hodge, Jr., Al Iafrate ,Ken Linseman, Dan LaCouture, Pat Leahy, Rick Middleton, Mike Mottau, Terry O’Reilly, Dave Shaw, Bruce Shoebottom, Tom Songin, Bob Sweeney, Tim Sweeney
Head coaches: Don Awrey and Michael Thelven