Vincent Lecavalier may hail from a small island just northwest of Montreal, but during his 15-year career as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he became so active with the Tampa Bay community that one could easily have mistaken him to be a native Floridian.
This is a man who consistently went above and beyond the call of duty, who always liked visiting chronically ill children at local hospitals, who comforted families in times of need, who spent days off raising money and awareness in the fight against pediatric cancer–so even though he was bought out due to salary cap constraints, the fact is that Lightning fans and the entire Tampa Bay area will miss him more than words can express.
With the Lightning, Lecavalier accomplished some pretty notable things. Chief among them, of course, is being part of the 2004 Stanley Cup team, a victory ranked as his most memorable moment. During that playoff run, he recorded nine goals and seven assists in 16 games, then scored a team-record 52 goals (later broken by Steven Stamkos) in 2006-07′.
He also became captain, taking over for Tim Taylor, back in 2008. And this past season, he celebrated reaching the milestone of 1,000 games played–all with Tampa Bay. Such experience came in handy two years ago, when a relatively young Lightning team made it all the way to Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.
Off the ice, he’s done everything possible to help those most in need. He pledged $3 million to help build the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at All Children’s Hospital, and makes on-ice performance contributions ($1,000 for every goal, $300 for each assist). That dedication earned him both the 2008 King Clancy Memorial Trophy and 2008 NHL Foundation Player Award.
From everything Lecavalier’s said, he’ll continue working closely with his foundation, no matter what sweater he ends up wearing next season.
It’s also practically a given that Lecavalier will receive recognition, both for his time with the Lightning and all the charitable work he did. Actually, there’s already plans to honor him as a Community Hero during his first game back in Tampa next season.
Here’s hoping his next team, wherever that may be, will take incredibly good care of him. Because, put quite simply, he deserves nothing less.