As much as there has been recent conjecture as to the ability of Lightning goalie Dwyane Roloson to man the nets, a smattering of inane chatter regarding Coach Guy Boucher’s bench boss seat either being traded or becoming hot enough to let him go and be replaced and the “out of left field” (because a certain member of press out there may as just be covering baseball instead of hockey) notion that GM Steve Yzerman’s sophomore year is a failure already, there have also been more than a few thoughts expressed as to the contributions of Vinny Lecavalier to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Please take the time to read this great article by a fellow @BoltsBytheBay writer who re-explains things of which many Lightning fans may have lost sight. Then take a look at this article written by Peter Pupello of the Tampa Bay Lightning which addresses Coach Boucher’s standing with his team and organization. (Kudos on the use of “character marks” in this one-I’m a fan of imagery). With the onset of two games won, the swell of fan frustration and disappointment has temporarily quelled. Considering however, the amassed quantity of social media aimed at the Lightning’s Captain this season, out of sheer respect for everything he brings to the proverbial table, I will take the time to “recognize” in a public forum such as this.
I shall now take my turn in bringing attention to the Bolts Captain. For those who just can’t live without numbers to decide how you feel, I will take the hit and indulge your appetite this time around. Going into tonight’s game against Phoenix, Captain Vinny happens to be 4th in the NHL in GW (game-winning goals), in the top 20 NHL players in G (goals) and top 30 NHL players in S (shots). He’s also been a member of a top NHL dynamic duo (in combination with Steven Stamkos) this season. He’s also been a part of another dynamic duo for many years, numbers or no, hasn’t he? Lecavalier and St. Louis go together like an ice-cold beer on a hot summer’s day don’t they. Not sure how you feel about this, but when I guy can make an assist like this, he must have some major on ice mojo, or am I just imagining things again? Am I the only one who had to watch that more than once to actually see VL4′s pass to Mr. Stam Coat…er…I mean Stammer? How many times did Captain Vinny work to regain the puck in that short amount of time andthen relentlessly make attempts to get to the net?
On any typical NHL team there are usually three players who have an extra piece of swag on display. This is always sewn into their battle uniforms on the left shoulder. NHL teams differ as to how a “C” is merited, just as they differ as to how the two “A’s” are issued, when and why. What is the one, single constant throughout the NHL? Each team has one player with “C” swag (exceptions may exist, but on the whole, are probably as rare as witnessing a perfectly officiate NHL game). For the Lightning, that player is Vincent Lecavalier. What some either do not have an awareness of, or have not taken into consideration is the fact that he had that “C” swag at one point, then had it removed (I should note this information would not be possible without Wikipedia). He and John Tortorella weren’t exactly hangin’ after practice having friendly chats about the weather were they. Yet, they struggled through it all despite differences and viola, Lecavalier is not only the big “C” again, but both he and “Torts” became Stanley Cup Championship winners together. Vinny then went on to experience what no player in a leadership role relishes; a post lock-out tumble down the league standings landing only one away from dead last.
As the Bolts began to scratch and claw back up in recovery from their bumpy downward standing’s slide, Lecavalier faced intensive, microscopic scrutiny from almost every possible source focusing on everything from his ability as a player to whether or not he should continue his NHL career given injury and other assorted factors. Now that last season has come and gone, there are far fewer questions as to VL4′s game due to a previous, serious injury, but still to some, there were whispers of doubt surfacing at the start of this NHL season. I prefer to simply skip over the abundance of criticism targeted at Captain Vinny this season. Instead, I will let you absorb what I’ve already written and mention that during the challenges heaved his way as Captain of this years Tampa Bay Lightning team, he also had to man the helm of team leadership without his battled-tested, usual Alternate Captain for 5 straight games.
With Ohlund (an “A” alternate captain) out of action from the get go and upon the scary news of Marty’s (the other “A” alternate captain) eye and facial injury in a morning practice, Lecavalier was the only man in blue and white representing left-shoulder, leadership swag on ice through most of December 2011 with more than 3 years NHL experience. My biggest contribution to the melee of public thoughts on Captain Vinny is to bring this collection of information together in one place and represent a perspective coming from my expertise in something called “resilience.” I am considered an expert through personal experience (doubt most of you would ever want to be me), education and paid contracts/consulting gigs. My expertise sees the team-captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vincent Lecavalier as nothing short of a resilient machine of straight hockey love.
Barring any situation placing Vinny as a player who attends practices plastered, calling Head Coach Guy (for whom Montreal will just have to wait their turn) a “poof” and barfing in Marty’s skates on a regular basis or empirical, tested, video evidence that VL4 spends his off-ice time snickering while kicking puppies with steel-toed boots, exactly what drives so many fans especially, to feel compelled to think forcing him out in trade for cap space for a goalie or something is even remotely a good idea? His foundation is worth keeping the Captain around for a while in and of itself isn’t it?
I know I’m not the only one who finds great appreciation for Vinny’s steadfast commitment to Lightning hockey, but if you are one who doesn’t; that’s perfectly okay. We’ll just have to “agree to disagree” on this matter. RECOGNIZE. Go Bolts!
Follow and contact me on Twitter @creasesinger and be sure to follow @BoltsByTheBay to keep up with all the Tampa Bay Lightning fan thoughts. Visit my personal blog Singing From the Crease too!