TAMPA — Former Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier was a surprise special guest at Sunday's Fan Fest, getting a standing ovation from the crowd of season-ticket holders as he was introduced.
"It's nice to see them again," Lecavalier said, smiling.
Lecavalier, 36, will get to see more fans Oct. 18, when the Lightning honors the former face of the franchise before a home game against the Panthers. The club won't retire Lecavalier's No. 4, but it will welcome the retired center home.
"It means a lot," Lecavalier said. "I spent 14 years (with the Lightning). The fans, they seem happy to see me. It's pretty cool."
Lecavalier, the Lightning's No. 1 overall draft pick in 1998, played 17 NHL seasons. He retired after finishing last season with the Kings. Lecavalier said he'll live in Tampa full time with wife Caroline and their three children, Gabriel, Victoria and Amelia. "It's funny what Tampa can do to you," Lecavalier said. "Really feels like home."
Lecavalier brought his kids to Fan Fest and plans to take them to several Lightning games this season.
A record 11,082 attended Fan Fest. "This is really a hockey town," Lecavalier said.
Lecavalier said he will take a year off from the game to be a dad. He hasn't spoken with the Lightning about having a role in the organization, though he's willing. "I'm sure we'll do plenty with him in the years ahead," owner Jeff Vinik said at Fan Fest.
Lecavalier's former Lightning teammate C Brad Richards also retired after last season, and RW Marty St. Louis the year before. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Lightning honor Richards this season. St. Louis will likely get a night at some point.
"We are greatly aware and appreciative of the contributions made by Vinny and the other retired players in our history," Lightning VP Bill Wickett said. "We look forward to recognizing each of them appropriately and at the right time."
KUCHEROV UPDATE: With RW Nikita Kucherov done at the World Cup with Russia's loss to Canada in Saturday's semifinal, the clock is ticking for the Lightning to sign the restricted free agent. GM Steve Yzerman he now can "push harder" to get a deal done: "I'm very hopeful we'll figure something out." Kucherov can have up to five days off before joining Lightning camp. It was unclear if he would report without a contract.
VINIK ON STAMKOS: Vinik had expressed optimism all last season that Steven Stamkos, in the last year of his contract, would re-sign. But to actually have it happen was an "incredible moment." Said Vinik: "I told (Stamkos) after he signed, 'This is the second most important day in the history of the Tampa Bay Lightning, No. 1 is when we won the Cup.' To have our leader sign for eight more years, when everybody on the planet knew … he could get more money by going elsewhere, that doesn't happen much in professional sports anymore."
TORONTO — Tomas Tatar scored his second goal of the game 3:43 into overtime, lifting Europe to a 3-2 win over Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey semifinals Sunday.
The team made up of players from eight nations that didn't have their own teams in the tournament will begin a best-of-three final series against Canada on Tuesday night.
Europe will be heavy underdogs against Canada, which has won two straight Olympic gold medals, the 2015 World Championship and 14 consecutive games in best-on-best tournaments.
"This is our chance to go far in a tournament like this," said Mats Zuccarello, a Rangers forward from Norway. "I think we just cherish that moment and this chance."
With Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia), the Europeans seem to have a shot to stun Canada. Halak made 37 saves against Sweden.
The Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist, who helped the Swedes win gold at the 2006 Olympics, stopped 28 shots. He had a shot to prevent both of Tatar's goals.
Sweden's elimination sends defensemen Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman, who assisted on Sweden's first goal, back to Tampa Bay for Lightning training camp.
Canada's Steven Stamkos is the only Lightning player left in the tournament.