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Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier to have season-ending wrist surgery

Vinny Lecavalier will have surgery today to fix cartilage in his right wrist, which has bothered him for two seasons.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Vinny Lecavalier will have surgery today to fix cartilage in his right wrist, which has bothered him for two seasons.

NEWARK, N.J. — Vinny Lecava- lier is not a complainer.

Ask the Lightning captain about his right wrist, which apparently has been a painful part of his routine for two seasons, and he has always said it was fine.

Even left wing Vinny Prospal, one of Lecavalier's best friends on the team, said he has never indicated the wrist was a problem. "But you see him icing it after every game," Prospal said. "Usually you stop after two weeks, but this has been going on for years."

"I played with it," Lecavalier said, "but it would flare up."

The most recent episode prompted the team to cut the center's season short. He will have arthroscopic surgery today to clean up damaged cartilage.

The procedure will be done at the Philadelphia Hand Center by orthopedist A. Lee Osterman, who operated on Lecavalier's left wrist in the summer of 2007 to repair damaged cartilage.

As it was with that surgery, Lecavalier, 28, is expected to be in a cast for two weeks and on the ice using a stick in four to six.

The operation takes Lecavalier out of consideration for Canada's world championship team. He said he will attend an August camp for Canada's 2010 Olympic squad. That means the four-time All-Star should be ready for next season's training camp.

"He's going to be 100 percent," general manager Brian Lawton said. "He'll be ready to go back to the player we all know and love."

The operation originally was scheduled for April 2008 but was put off when Lecavalier needed surgery on his right shoulder. Lecavalier insisted the wrist has not affected his play, but Lawton said, "I think it bothered him more than people would know.

"We really wanted him to try to figure out the season," Lawton said, "and he certainly was giving it his all. It just got to the point where it didn't make much sense (to put off the surgery)."

Lawton said a recent flare- up contributed to a five-game stretch in which Lecavalier had zero points and eight shots. He also had just two goals in his last 14 games. With the team traveling so close to Philadelphia, Lawton said the procedure was scheduled after Tuesday's loss to the Bruins. Lecavalier finishes with 29 goals and 67 points, his lowest outputs since 2001-02.

"One of the toughest years of my career," Lecavalier said before being driven to Philadelphia with trainer Tommy Mulligan. "The thing I'm really excited about is my summer training and having a lot of time to get my shoulder stronger and my wrist better."

"He never used it as an excuse," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He's not that kind of player. … But I'm sure it's something he had to manage all year."

Just as the Lightning manages a growing injured list. Defensemen Richard Petiot and Matt Smaby are questionable for tonight's game with the Devils at the Prudential Center. Petiot fell on his left shoulder in a Tuesday fight with Byron Bitz. Smaby, bothered by a lower-body injury, left Thursday's practice early.

Lawton said callups are unlikely for tonight, but "one or two guys," could be up soon from AHL Norfolk.

One bit of good news for Tampa Bay: Forward Paul Szczechura, out five games with a leg injury, seems ready.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier to have season-ending wrist surgery 04/02/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 3, 2009 6:34am]
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