Vincent Lecavalier: in the shoes of a first choice


Kent Hughes may have wanted to slow down supporters’ ardor by arguing that the organization would be patient with its first choice, but outside pressure will be strong on whoever is lucky.

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Chosen overall first by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 1998 auction, Vincent Lecavalier knows a lot about the matter. At the time, Florida team owner Art Williams said Lecavalier would become nothing more than the Michael Jordan of hockey.

“I was lucky to have Jacques [Demers] with me after that comment. He protected me, he didn’t put any pressure on me, “Lecavalier said of his first NHL coach.

“It has been a great year. I was playing on the third line. Jacques told me to keep developing and improving, that he would let me play with good veterans “, continued the Île-Bizard athlete.

For this first of 14 seasons in Lightning uniform, Lecavalier had collected 28 points, including 13 goals. A seemingly small crop, but acquired within a formation that had finished the season at 27And and last in the NHL with a record of 19-54-9.

At the time of writing Lecavalier, Lightning was in its sixth season of activity. The team had only participated in one elimination round. And the hockey market in the Tampa area was far from as developed as it is today. Therefore, the spotlight was not on him as it will be on Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky or Logan Cooley.

“I found myself in a not too successful organization. It allowed them to be patient with me the first year, Lecavalier said. But it’s not easy to be number one and have strangers ask you questions every day. But you have to live and grow with it ”.

A phone call to Shane Wright

Like Wright, Lecavalier had been considered top of the class for several months when the auction began on the floor of Buffalo’s Marine Midland Arena on June 27, 1998.

“It’s not easy. You have pressure every night. You are 17, not 25 or 30 with 10 years of NHL experience, Lecavalier pointed out. In my last season as a junior, I had a lot of ups and downs mentally.

In his capacity as special adviser on hockey operations for the Canadiens, Lecavalier phoned the Kingston Frontenacs to tell him about his experience.

“I wanted to understand more about the young man and how he handled this situation over the course of the year. I think he did it right, he said. I learned a lot about him. He is a good person with high standards. “

The work begins

Stanley Cup champion, author of 421 goals, including 52 that earned him the Maurice-Richard trophy at the end of the 2006-2007 season, Lecavalier granted the following advice to the young ontario.

“Whether you are the first or the 200And, the goal of all recruited players is to one day carve a position in the NHL. Being a pick in the first round just gives you the advantage of having a quicker opportunity to do it, ”she said.

“So savor the moment, but the next day you have to get down to business,” he continued.

An advice that applies to all those who hear their name, Thursday evening and Friday afternoon, at the Centro Campana.


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