Vincent Lecavalier was one of the NHL‘s marquee free agents this past offseason, as he was surprisingly bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’d been playing hockey in Florida since 1998, and many thought it was where he’d finish his career. However, the Lightning needed to find some cap space this past summer, which resulted in buying out their former captain.
Though he was sought after by many teams, the Philadelphia Flyers eventually ponied up and signed the forward to a five year, $22.5 million contract. The move fulfilled Lecavalier’s need to play in a legitimate hockey market, as Tampa Bay is only really known to fill the arena during playoff pushes.
Now, after spending almost two months in a new jersey, Lecavalier will be making his triumphant return to the city he started his career in. The Flyers will visit Tampa Bay tomorrow night, and it’ll surely be an emotional experience for Lecavalier, who has since admitted as much.
“It’s definitely going to be special,” Lecavalier told CSN Philadelphia. “I am excited to go back. It’s not something I have really thought of. I’m just happy to go back and play against them and hope to play a great game there.
“I’m excited to go back and see my old teammates and buddies and play hard against them.”
Expect Lecavalier to receive quite an ovation from his former hometown fans. He most certainly shouldn’t hear any sort of boos, as he wasn’t the one who orchestrated his exit from the team. One would think it’ll be more than a little difficult for him to keep his composure early on, as the Tampa Bay Times Forum visitors’ locker room isn’t exactly a familiar sight for him.
Surprisingly enough, this game will be worth watching for more than just the return of a former star. Despite losing Steven Stamkos to a broken leg, the Lightning are holding their own in their new division. Currently the team sits in third place in the Eastern Conference, and slowly but surely coming up behind them are the Flyers. Philadelphia stumbled out of the gate like you wouldn’t believe, which resulted in the firing of coach Peter Laviolette. Written off by many, the Flyers are surging, posting a 6-2-2 record in their last ten games.
Whether you’re interested in watching Lecavalier come back home to Tampa or just looking forward to two surprising Eastern Conference foes, this bout between the Flyers and Lightning has become intriguing in more ways than one.