No matter the circumstances, no matter the situations, outsiders will always view Vinny Lecavalier's game with a narrow focus. Since his first days on the ice with the Lightning, Lecavalier's offensive skills and abilities stole headlines and defined his game. Winning the Rocket Richard Trophy with a league-best 52 goals in 2006-07 helped fulfill those expectations that followed him since he was selected first overall in the 1998 NHL draft. In the past couple of years, however, Lecavalier's numbers dipped to mediocre levels with 53 combined goals the past two seasons amid ownership turmoil and constant trade rumors after he signed an 11-year contract extension worth $85 million. So this summer, after Steve Yzerman took over as general manager and then hired Guy Boucher as coach, conversations each held with Lecavalier focused on trying to get the team's captain to be more of a two-way player ensuring he focused as much on his defense as his offensive game. That has been the mantra for Lecavalier this year, and as far as he is concerned, he doesn't worry about what outsiders think of his lack of offensive production with just 12 goals and 29 points in 40 games this season. "I don't listen to outsiders, I listen to the coaching staff and my teammates,'' Lecavalier said. "No, I'm not so focused on defense. I think I just couldn't find the net at times. I think I just have to play a solid game defensively and the chances will come. … I don't read the newspapers, so if you start listening to everybody that's when you start to go crazy. "There is always going to be criticism. Even when you do well, there is criticism because some people find a way to say things. But overall, I think people have been very supportive, especially here in Tampa and we have been doing well as a team and I think people acknowledge that."
Lecavalier works to find right balance
Tampa Tribune | Feb 14