When captain Vincent Lecavalier leads the Tampa Bay Lightning onto Nassau Coliseum ice tomorrow afternoon he’ll join an elite group of players, all of whom have played 1,000 career NHL games. As if that’s not enough, this game will also mark his 1,000th as a member of the Lightning.
Selected first overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft Lecavalier has endured a lot, both good and bad, during his long but illustrious career. He started things off by ranking second in team scoring as a rookie. He then went on to lead the team in goals, assists, points, shots, power-play goals and power-play assists during the 1999-2000 season. Lecavalier also helped lead the Lightning to their first-ever playoff win in 2003 by notching three goals and three assists against the Washington Capitals. The accomplishment which cemented Lecavalier’s legacy though came during the 2004 postseason, as he proved to be key during the Lightning’s torrid playoff run that ultimately saw them bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup.
With the 2004-05 season completely cancelled because of a labor dispute (gee, that sounds familiar) Lecavalier decided to play in Russia. He flourished there, recording seven goals and nine assists in 30 games for Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL. Once the lockout ended and play resumed Lecavalier picked up where he’d left off in terms of accomplishments, becoming the first Lightning player to record 400 career points. He appeared on Canada’s 2006 Olympic team and won the 2007 Rocket Richard Trophy with 52 goals as well.
While Lecavalier’s on-ice play speaks for itself it’s hard to forget what he’s done off the ice, as his foundation helped fund and build the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Located at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, the center provides children and young adults in west/west central Florida with the care they need to battle this awful disease.
As can be seen, Lecavalier’s an inspiration to many. Now let’s hope that inspiration is on full display tomorrow, making this milestone something he’ll remember for many years to come.