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Tampa Bay Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier to keep his mind off trade talk

Vinny Lecavalier can veto any trade beginning Wednesday, when his 11-year, $85 million contract takes effect.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Vinny Lecavalier can veto any trade beginning Wednesday, when his 11-year, $85 million contract takes effect.

Every year, Vinny Lecavalier said, he and his buddies have a guys weekend away from their hometown of Montreal.

Just so happens this year's trip coincides with the Friday-Saturday NHL draft at the Bell Centre.

Coincidence?

The Lightning captain laughed.

"It's a plan I do with my friends," he said. "We leave town and play golf or something."

Coincidence or not, hitting the links has to be better than being bombarded at home while trade rumors swirl on television and the Internet and in the papers as Canadiens fans hope Lecavalier is dealt to their team.

Thing is, after Tuesday's meeting between commissioner Gary Bettman and feuding Lightning co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, the possibility of a trade — in the short term, anyway — appears diminished.

While Koules remains CEO and governor and handles the day-to-day running of the club, it appears Barrie, like Koules, must sign off on any major player moves. It is a retention of responsibilities while, under a Bettman mandate, they try to work through their difficulties.

It also could be key if a Lecavalier trade is debated.

General manager Brian Lawton consistently has said he is not shopping the four-time All-Star center but has not ruled out trading him if it is in the best interest of the team. And moving Lecavalier, 29, could bring a much-needed No. 1 defenseman.

But Barrie, who calls Lecavalier a "generational player," has said he wants to keep the team captain. It is a sentiment Lightning fans seem to share, a consideration for the front office at a time the team is desperate to sell tickets.

Adding to the speculation Lecavalier might be traded: His 11-year, $85 million contract, which will be difficult for the financially troubled team to handle, and a no-move clause that takes effect with the deal Wednesday and would require his approval of any trade.

Adding to the tension: What agent Kent Hughes said has been his unsuccessful attempt to discern the team's intentions.

"Vinny has lived under a cloud of uncertainty since January, when these rumors first started erupting," Hughes said. "Nobody within the organization has unequivocally told us that Vinny is not being traded.

"What we have been told is that if Vinny is going to be traded, they would communicate with us first and include us in the process. They have not done that. But I have asked for clarity, and they have not given us an indication of what their stance is."

Lawton told reporters in Montreal he has not spoken to Hughes or Lecavalier "in the past few days."

He added about the trade rumors, "I'm not going to answer any more questions in regard to (Lecavalier's) situation. I think at this time, it's all been said. He's still a player on our roster, and we're excited about it."

Asked if he was disappointed by the uncertainty, Lecavalier said, "Of course, I'd like to know yes or no, but it's not like that, and that's fine, too. The most important thing is if something was going to happen, they would contact me. So as long as I haven't heard anything, there's nothing going on."

What is going on?

The rehabilitation of Lecavalier's surgically repaired right wrist.

"It's still sore here and there, but I can do everything," he said. "I can play golf. Last week I played tennis with friends, and it didn't bother me at all."

He'll put it to the test again this weekend.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com

47th NHL draft

When/where: Friday-Saturday; Bell Centre, Montreal

TV: 7 p.m. Friday, Versus; 10 a.m. Saturday, NHL Network

Lightning picks: Rounds (overall): 1 (2), 2 (32), 2 (52), 3 (75), 4 (93), 6 (161), 7 (182)

Tampa Bay Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier to keep his mind off trade talk 06/24/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009 7:39am]

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