Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

5 Vinny Lecavalier memories

June 27, 1998 Savior Selected

The Lightning was the worst team in hockey and seeking a savior when it chose Lecavalier with the top pick in the 1998 draft. In doing so, it made the 18-year-old (with scout Don Murdock, left) the face of the franchise, and two years later, the captain. "He's going to be a Hall of Famer," then-owner Art Williams (right) said on draft day. "He's going to lead us to Stanley Cups. There's no doubt that in three or four years, he's going to be the world's greatest hockey player. He's going to be the Michael Jordan of hockey."

April 27, 2004 Magic in Montreal

Lecavalier always has had creativity and flair, and it looked like he waved a magic wand on the tying goal in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal vs. Montreal. Dave Andreychuk sent a pass toward the crease. Lecavalier, tied up in front, appeared as if he had no chance to get a shot off. But he stuck his stick between his legs and deflected the puck past Jose Theodore with 16.5 seconds left to make it 3-3. Brad Richards scored 1:05 into OT, and the Lightning went on to sweep the series.

May 29, 2004 Fighting with the stars

One of the most indelible images of Lecavalier's career is fighting Jarome Iginla during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Flames. Jaws dropped in Calgary as arguably the two best players on the ice dropped their gloves just more than six minutes in. Lecavalier got in a couple of good shots before Iginla rallied. But the message was sent: The Lightning wasn't going to get pushed around. Tampa Bay lost the game 3-0 but won the series in seven and its only Cup. "Our bench definitely rose up when Vinny did that," Dave Andreychuk said after the game. "Vinny has taken charge in a lot of games for us, and he's made the players around him better. That's what he did tonight."

June 7, 2004 Clinching the Cup

With a chance to win the Stanley Cup in front of a home crowd, Lecavalier (below right with Martin Cibak) helped seal the deal with a highlight-reel assist in Game 7. The Lightning was clinging to a 1-0 lead six minutes into the second period when Lecavalier took a pass down low, made a spin move around a defender and, before getting dropped to the ice, sent a pass through two Flames to Ruslan Fedotenko at the top of the left circle. Fedotenko's wrist shot went in, setting the stage for the highlight of Lecavalier's career, carrying the Cup around the ice. "It was the best part of the night," he said.

June 3, 2007 Rocket Man

Lecavalier has scored more goals than any player in team history, 383 over 14 seasons. His best season was 2006-07, when he scored a career-high 52 (his 56 assists gave him 108 points, third in the league). He won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's top goal-scorer and received the award before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final from Richard's brother and fellow Canadiens legend Henri. Said Lecavalier: "It's a great honor to be up here."

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

     
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