Having a child, Vinny Lecavalier has discovered, is all about moments: holding daughter Victoria, 7 weeks old, in his arms while rocking her to sleep, watching her head turn toward him when she hears his voice, changing a diaper. Heck, even telling people he and longtime girlfriend Caroline Portelance have a child is a trip. "I love saying I have a daughter," the Lightning captain said from his home in his native Montreal. Another moment comes today: his first Father's Day. "I can't wait," he said. "The whole family is going to do a brunch and hang out together. It's pretty cool." Lecavalier on May 3 manned the video camera in the delivery room at Tampa General Hospital when Victoria was born. He read parenting books and got advice from teammate Marty St. Louis, who has three sons. Too bad no one taught Lecavalier, 30, how to sing a lullaby. He hums Christmas songs to his daughter instead.
What was the delivery room like?
You hear stories about how difficult it is for women to deliver. When you see it, it looks even harder than what you thought. I really respect women and what they go through.
There also are stories about fathers fainting.
I wasn't sure how I was going to react, but I was pretty calm. I was kind of overwhelmed. When your little girl comes out, I wasn't saying much. I was kind of just looking, cutting the cord. I was almost in a trance.
Why the name Victoria?
My girlfriend said if she ever had a daughter, she wanted to name her Victoria. Even when we started dating, she always loved the name, so when we found out it was a girl, we didn't even have to talk about it. That was her name.
What is it like holding her?
It's unbelievable. I guess what every father says to people who don't have children is, you don't know until you hold her in your arms, and you really don't. Now I know what Martin St. Louis says to me when he looks at his kids and how he feels about them. It's the same with me and my daughter. Just holding her and watching her. When she sneezes, it's funny. She's just a great baby. She cries, and I hold her, and I go to the chair, and I rock her, and she stops crying. It's great.
Do you sing to her or say nursery rhymes?
You know, I don't know any, but I'll be humming a Christmas song or I'll just invent something to calm her down. I don't really know any songs. My girlfriend knows them all. I'm just inventing as I go.
How are you at changing diapers?
The first diaper I changed was at the hospital, and it took a while. (Caroline) videotaped me while I was trying to figure it out. But after you do it once or twice, it's easy. I love doing it, making her clean. I try to do my part and help out.
What's tougher, changing a diaper or going into a corner against Chris Pronger?
I would say going into a corner against (Flyers defenseman) Chris Pronger. Changing a diaper is (laughing) I don't have the heavy stuff yet. She's too young for that. When she starts eating real food, I guess it's going to be a different ball game. I'll have to do another interview when that happens and let you know.
Do you and Caroline want more kids?
Oh, definitely, two or three for sure.
Did you study up before the baby was born?
I read a few books to get a few tricks to help the transition and help her sleep. I read a lot of stuff, but I remember talking to Marty about this. He said it's great to have tips, but once they come out, every baby is different. I took maybe a couple of things from the books, but I think if I wouldn't have read anything I'd catch on. Every day you learn things and adapt as you go along.
Anything surprise you?
Not really. You hear all the horror stories about how some kids don't really sleep for a couple of years, but every kid is different. It might be a cliche, but as long as she's healthy, that's what it's all about. The scariest thing is for them to be sick or have something happen to them. As long as she's healthy and grows up to be a good little girl, that's all I want.
Does she recognize you?
Not yet. Maybe next month she's going to start focusing more. Now it's just the light and voices. If she's on one side and you start talking, she'll turn around. It's little phases. From the beginning, every day she learns things and you realize every week she does something a little different. It's a lot of fun.
How did your dog EnZo react to a new family member?
You hear the stories about how the dogs get jealous, but EnZo is just a happy dog. He comes and licks her feet or ear. I wouldn't leave them together alone, but he's been great. He's just happy to have a new friend in the house.