There’s no point in overlooking the fact that this buyout ultimately makes more sense for the team, but it still sucks to lose your captain, community leader, man with really beautiful eyes. Have you seen his eyes? Sorry, I came here to praise Vincent Lecavalier, not to objectify him.
What buried him was that ridiculous front-loaded contract left to the current management by the previous regime (aka The Clown Show). But Mattias Ohlund’s shredded knees put him on IR, so you can’t buy him out (ah, the vagaries of the CBA – if you are paying them not to play, why does it matter if they can actually play?) and they hope that Ryan Malone has trade value when paired with a draft pick, so that leaves Vinny and his $7.7 million hit. The Lightning will be paying him $32.67 million through the 2016-2017 season so they won’t get away cheaply, but at least it won’t count against their cap.
Still for those of us who view him as the face of the franchise, it will be tough. He did rack up some impressive achievements during his 1000 plus games as a Lightning including being a 4 time All Star, picking up the Rocket Richard and King Clancy trophies, along with a Stanley Cup which included an historic bout with Jarome Iginla.
I remember that fight well mainly because I was worried they would ruin their good looks. No, I kid, it was a turning point to the series in Game 3, and when it’s played on the jumbotron as a highlight of Lightning history, it is lustily cheered by the crowd. And how many Stanley Cup winners have been in a movie? Vinny played Jean Beliveau in The Rocket. It was a god awful made for TV film (propaganda, is my father’s take on it) but still. There’s no point in watching it. (Fun Fact: I found a copy on Amazon for $2 – the shipping was more – and got Vinny to sign it!)
His charity work is also impressive earning him an NHL Foundation Award. He has been tireless in his support of the community including donating three million dollars to help start the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children’s Hospital. He will continue all his fund-raising even if he moves to a different team.
He views Tampa Bay as his home and plans to raise his family here. Not to mention his dreamy good looks. Those limpid, lanquid eyes. I imagine the Lightning will retire his number as a goodwill gesture for all he’s done for the team and the city – not necessarily for his model like visage.
But lest you think everything is perfect in “VinnieWorld”, let’s look objectively at the past couple of seasons. The injuries which have hampered his career (shoulder, wrist, ankle, possible concussion, maybe weltschmertz?) continue to bother him. His once potent slapshot is not as accurate as days of yore, but he is still a great playmaker and while they’ve dwindled over the years, his point totals this (shortened) season were just under one a game. I’m sure arguing with the likes of John Tortorella and Rick Tocchet took its mental toll. Not to mention the constant trade rumors he endured before Steve Yzerman became General Manager and said that Vinny would not be going away. Oops. Awkward.
respectful objectification reminiscences after the jump
I have no doubt that Vinny will find work with another team at a much lower salary. The Red Wings keep popping up as a possible destination since they need a good center since Valtterri Filppula hasn’t payed off. And as Wings fan, I’d love to see him center a line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. But this is @hockeyguynyc territory, so I’ll refrain from further comment. Point is, Vinny seems very motivated to go out and win with a new team. I just hope it’s not with the Habs. Obviously, we wish him the best and will miss his pretty face during interviews.
Now we need a new captain. I’m just going to go ahead and give it to Marty St. Louis this years’ winner of the Art Ross and Lady Bing Trophies. (The oldest recipient of the Art Ross might I add) He is already what is considered the “heart and soul” of the team: a selfless individual who will do what has to be done to win games. He is notorious for his fierce workout regime. Never drafted by the Lightning, he made the team through hard work and determination. As an example, I was at a Lightning game where they were playing Pittsburgh and were down by three (and two of the Pens goals were shorthanded). I watched Marty take the puck end to end and score a goal. It was though he skated around the Pens through sheer will. The team rallied back to win in OT. These are the kinds of clutch goals that he scores on a regular basis.
Stamkos’ name also appears as a leader, but just as Stammer has benefited from being under Marty’s wing (or more accurately being Stammer’s right winger) and developed as a better all around player, I think that he would absorb many valuable lessons from Marty’s captaincy. Really, either one is fine with me. What’s more important is what they do with the money freed up with Vinny gone. If Yzerman brings in another Alex Tanguay or Simon Gagne who ends up being merely mediocre, that money will be wasted and so will the fans’ goodwill.
Eric Pinder (@operahockeyguy) is an actor, writer, Director In Residence for the Florida Opera Theatre and performer of some notoriety on Orlando stages (resume available upon request). His hockey opera “Goaliedammerung” is still in the works, but he is currently adapting Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” for the stage which is just as exciting as you might imagine. His father drank from the Stanley Cup and was also punched in the face by Jean Beliveau.