Former Lightning Vinny Lecavalier was a surprised guest at Sunday's Fan Fest, getting a standing ovation from the crowd of season ticket holders as he was introduced.
Lecavalier, 36, had a big smile on his face.
"It's nice to see them again," Lecavalier said.
Lecavalier will get to see more on Oct. 18, when the Lightning plans to honor the former face of the franchise before the game against the Florida Panthers. The club will not be retiring Lecavalier's No. 4 jersey, but it should be a special night.
"It means a lot," Lecavalier said. "I spent 14 years. The fans, they're clapping, they seem happy to seee me. It's pretty cool."
Lecavalier, the Lightning's No. 1 overall pick in 1998, spent 14 of his 17 NHL seasons in Tampa Bay. He retired after finishing last season with the Kings. "It's weird, when I got that email about the alumni meetings, that's when I'm really like, 'It's all over," he quipped.
Lecavalier said he'll live in Tampa full-time, with wife Carolina and their three children, Gabriel, Victoria and Amelia. He joins a lot of Lightning alumni in the area. "Everybody's coming back, it's crazy," Lecavalier said. "They all seem to creep back. It's funny what Tampa can do to you. Really feels like home." Lecavalier brought his kids to Fan Fest, and plans to take them to several Lightning games this season.
"This is really a hockey town," Lecavalier said.
Lecavalier said he plans to take a year away from the game, just being a dad. And he hasn't spoken with the Lightning yet about having a role in the organization, though he said, "If I can help do some stuff, I'm more than happy."
For now, Lecavalier will be a fan. And he thinks the Lightning has the "best offense in the league," with a good chance of winning the Stanley Cup again in coming years.
"Hopefully, Lecavalier said. "This year."