The Tampa Bay Lightning were one of the league’s biggest disappointments in 2013, flubbing a brilliant 6-1 start to finish 27th out of 30 teams. But within that horrible season, there was no shortage of smaller surprising performances from individual players.
One guy who put together a decent 2013 campaign, when he wasn’t playing through or sidelined by injury, was captain Vincent Lecavalier. After a tough past few seasons with the Lightning, Lecavalier was showing signs of breaking out had it not been for a broken foot, which limited his production before forcing him from the lineup.
Lecavalier appeared in 39 games for the Lightning, finishing with 32 points, including 10 goals. 11 of those points came in his first seven games, helping lead the team to a scorching hot beginning that saw them top the Eastern Conference and Southeast Division.
Then a slapshot from defenseman Sami Salo during the final few minutes of a Feb. 2 home loss to the New York Rangers, resulted in an unfortunate foot injury. Although he played through it, one could tell Lecavalier wasn’t 100 percent, something evidenced by his 11 points over the next 19 games. Following that stretch, he missed nearly a month, from March 12 to April 4. Upon returning, he made his presence felt, finishing with three goals and 10 points in the team’s final 11 games.
Had he been able to stay healthy, it’s very likely Lecavalier might have completely returned to form. That would have been a relief for him and the organization after an injury-plagued, production-declining last four years. He had trouble staying consistent, more so when hounded by constant trade rumors. Once those were squashed, health became an issue, costing him almost 20 games the past two seasons.
In 288 games dating back to 2008-09 with the Lightning, Lecavalier never totaled more than 70 points. For a guy two years removed from a 52 goal, 108 point Rocket Richard trophy winning season and making $85 million over an 11 year period, that’s massively disappointing.
But this year provided glimpses of hope, at least when he was healthy. He proved that he could still help Tampa Bay. Next season should see him produce more, and that would be great news for a team looking to make the playoffs after missing out six of the past seven years.