Imagine being in one place for 14 years, then suddenly being told you’re not wanted. How tough must it be starting over someplace else?
Ok, enough about Andy Reid. This isn’t about Big Red. In this case the man trying to revive his career hasn’t left here. He’s just arrived.
Vinny Lecavalier was told by Tampa Bay not to let the door hit him on the way out when they bought out the remaining seven years and $45 million of his contract under the NHL’s new amnesty clause. He strongly believes wearing the Flyers’ orange and black might be exactly what he needs.
“Once you’re bought out you have no choice,” said Lecavalier, who will provide depth and some needed size at center. “But I’m excited for this challenge and new opportunity. It’s a different feel for me and my family. I was lucky enough to be in a place 14 years with a great organization.”
During those 14 years — 383 goals, four All-Star appearances — Lecavalier also achieved the one thing Reid failed to do here: win a championship. Ironically, it came at his new team’s expense when the 2004 Lightning beat the Flyers in a memorable conference final.
“I remember before the series thinking, ‘This is gonna be a tough series,'” recalled Lecavalier, who had four goals with two assists in the series. “And it was. Probably the best series we had in the playoffs. I love to come here and play in this building. It’s just a really loud and fun building and the crowd is never silent.”
Even better now that they’ll be cheering for him.
“Honestly, I don’t want to prove the Lighning wrong,” said Lecavalier. “It has nothing to do with that. The way I come into camp is every year I want to prove something. I’m 33 years old, but I don’t feel old.”
Early reports have been favorable.
“He’s looked terrific,” said coach Peter Laviolette, who took his team up to Lake Placid, NY, this past weekend to prepare for the Oct. 2 season opener. “He’s going to be a big piece for us this year.”
After 14 years in one place, Lecavalier can’t wait to make his mark in his new home.