Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Vincent Lecavalier Jersey Card

Is Vincent Lecavalier back? He had a game-tying goal and an assist on Sunday, led the Philadelphia Flyers in shots, and played exactly the way the team thought he might when they hired him: physically, North-South, no bullshit, all effort. The type of attitude he'd developed as captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and one he further delved into after a grueling series against the Flyers - and Keith Primeau in particular - in 2004.

Lecavalier stills owns Tampa's single-season record for points (108), is second to Martin St-Louis on the team's all-time points and assists list, and tops the career goals mark for the Lightning - which will probably be surpassed by Steven Stamkos in the next five years. He's won a Stanley Cup, a World Cup in which he was named MVP while suiting up for Team Canada, a Rocket Richard Trophy (for most goals in a season), a King Clancy for leadership and serving his community, and has been a perennial All-Star, even once captaining his All-Star team.

He's not as fast as he used to be, but when he has the puck, he still has the strength to plow through the opposition, stand tall and not fall when checked, and can pass and shoot accurately. He won't be at an advantage playing on a fourth line with guys who can't keep up with his skill level for long, but he still managed to score 20 goals last year while changing linemates and positions pretty much every game in head coach Craig Berube's doghouse. Philly tried to trade him this summer but with most teams with money being strapped by the salary cap, GM Ron Hextall couldn't find any takers.

And so the back-and-forth with Berube continued, and Vinny was scratched for the first time of his (potentially Hall Of Fame-worthy) 14-year career a month ago. Berube, a career grinder, seemingly needs to see players showing their teeth and growling at opponents to be satisfied, whereas Lecavalier, though tough as nails, isn't an instigator, and is a classy and elegant player until pushed... where he becomes the very definition of a power forward. His captain-versus-captain bout with Jarome Iginla will forever be my favourite NHL fight of all time, because it pitted two superstars going at it in the heat of the moment, marking the end of an offense/defense battle:

He has also fought other stars (Zdeno Chara twice, Marian Hossa) as well as actual tough guys (Denis Gauthier twice, Brad Ference, Andy Sutton, Alex Petrovic) and some heart-and-soul guys (Alexandre Burrows, and Scott Hartnell), too.

As I said, he's a tad slower than he used to be, but I think he can still be a 40-50 point producer in the NHL, playing in the middle-six with some powerplay time which, with the two years he has remaining on his contract, should enable him to pass the 450-goal and 1000-point marks relatively easily.

Here he is wearing Tampa Bay's old black and white away uniform, from Upper Deck's 2006-07 SPx set (card #WM-VL of the Winning Materials sub-set), with a dual white swatch:
On it, he's sprting the alternate captain's "A".

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