A phone call a few weeks ago from Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman really got Vinny Lecavalier to thinking about his hockey future. Hearing a decision would be made within a week on buying out his contract was jarring to Lecavalier. Before knowing for sure he’d become a free agent, let alone join the Flyers, Lecavalier realized he was a prime candidate for a buyout due to his big contract, age and last season’s lockout leading to a salary-cap drop for the 2013-14 season. Still, the thought of moving on was upsetting. Lecavalier had gone from being drafted first overall by Tampa Bay to playing there for 14 seasons, four as an All-Star center. He’d won a Stanley Cup there. It also had become home to the 33-year-old Montreal native, his wife and their two daughters. A week after the call from Yzerman, Lecavalier was summoned to a meeting two Thursdays ago in Tampa for a final decision. Wanting cap relief, the Lightning opted to buy out the remaining seven seasons of his $110 million contract. For Lecavalier, the development will become $32.67 million in buyout money over the next 14 seasons, plus immediate unrestricted free agency as well as disappointment and uneasiness about his uncertain future. “My mom took it pretty hard,” Lecavalier said Saturday in a conference call that was his first interview as a Flyer. “My wife as well. We all enjoyed it there (in Tampa). It’s a good organization. ... There was a lot of thinking of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. I’ve never been in that situation before. That’s why I wanted to meet with a lot of teams.” When a bunch showed interest, Lecavalier headed to New York City last weekend to do some speed dating with suitors, as NHL execs for every team were in the area for the draft, held last Sunday in Newark. In all, 10 meetings were lined up. Of the eight held Saturday and two Sunday morning, one stood out. Hearing what Flyers president Peter Luukko, general manager Paul Holmgren and head coach Peter Laviolette had to say and offer, Lecavalier pretty much made up his mind right then that he wanted to join a franchise that was coming off a rare no-playoff season, but loaded with skilled young forwards.
Flyers give Lecavalier new lease on life
Courier-Post | Jul 7