The Philadelphia Flyers made some news last Friday when coach Craig Berube announced that offseason acquisition Vincent Lecavalier was being bumped all the way down to the fourth line. Despite signing a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the team, Lecavalier has been having quite a rough season by his standards. The veteran forward was less than thrilled, leaving some to wonder just how he would take the demotion.
Well, two games later, the Flyers have to be psyched with the results.
Lecavalier had an incredibly productive weekend, scoring three goals in two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, respectively. His first goal against the Bruins was the 400th of his career, and his plus/minus rating for the game was +2.
Whether or not this success carries on for Lecavalier is yet to be determined. That said, this situation as a whole could’ve gone so much worse.
No player likes to be moved down the lines due to a lack of productivity, however it had to be an even bigger blow for Lecavalier. We’re talking about a former All-Star who’s won a Stanley Cup, as well as the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy for leading the league in goals. To tell someone with that resume that he’s being bumped down to the grinder line is a bold move. It’d be so easy for Lecavalier to pull some sort of a “don’t you know who I am” type move and become an issue in the locker room.
Instead, he went out and helped his team earn a crucial three points out of an available four as the playoff push reaches its final turn. The Flyers now sit in sixth overall in the Eastern Conference, and though their postseason berth isn’t yet a lock, the odds certainly look better after the weekend.
Lecavalier’s response to the demotion was about the best you could ask, and should be a prime example for younger players throughout the NHL. Contributions like this will be huge for Philadelphia both in these final two weeks and come playoff time. Berube took a huge risk in demoting the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain, but it certainly looks like the risk was worth the reward.