Tampa Bay Lightning: Team retires number of Vincent Lecavalier

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 10: Victor Hedman
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 10: Victor Hedman /

Former Tampa Bay Lightning captain and all-star Vincent Lecavalier has his number 4 retired by the Lightning in a heartwarming ceremony before the Lightning’s game against the Los Angeles Kings

Amalie Arena raised another banner to its roof tonight, but this time it was to honor a player rather than an achievement of the team.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning captain, all-star, and Stanley Cup champion Vincent Lecavalier had his number 4 retired before the Lightning’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Vincent Lecavalier was drafted first overall by the Lightning in the 1998 entry draft.  While he was a star on the ice, his career didn’t get off to the easiest start.  In 2000 he was named captain of the Lightning, but the title was stripped a year later as he was deemed not mature enough to lead the team and was frequently conflicting with then head coach John Tortorella.

"“Why are we wasting time?  We know we’re drafting Vinny” – Phil Esposito on drafting Lecavalier first overall pick in 1998 draft during his speech at the number retirement ceremony"

As talked about during the ceremony, Lecavalier was almost traded during these tumultuous times.  However, the Bolts didn’t want to give up on Vinny or Tortorella, so the two were forced to get along, and get along they did.

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Lecavalier was an integral part of the Lightning’s cup run in 2004, as he posted nine goals and seven assists.  One of his seven assists was on Ruslan Fedotenko‘s cup winning goal.

Over the next few seasons, Lecavalier would establish himself as a star for the Lightning.  In 2008, he earned back the C, which he kept until he parted ways with the team in 2013.

Many speakers had a lot of good things to say about Lecavalier during the ceremony.  The speakers included Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Lightning co-founder and color commentator Phil Esposito, and former teammate Brad Richards.

While they all had different stories to tell from different perspectives, the thing they all came back to was Lecavalier’s character off the ice.  He was frequently referred to as classy, selfless, and as the definition of leader both on and off the ice.

"“If you go anywhere in Tampa Bay, the name Vinny has become synonymous with giving back… Thank you, Vinny and Caroline, for coming home.” – Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, during his number retirement ceremony speech"

Lecavalier funded the Vincent Lecavalier  Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at the All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.  He didn’t stop at funding the wing, however.  One of Lecavalier’s favorite things to do in Tampa was to visit the children of the wing.

At the conclusion of Vinny’s speech, he spoke on a renewed dedication to the Lighting organization.  The Lecavalier family has moved back to Tampa to raise their children and Vinny wants an increased presence with the Lightning.  He said that although no one will ever wear the number 4 again on the ice, fans can expect to see him more often as he’s one of them now.

"“Although no one will ever wear number four again on this ice, expect to see me here often, as I’m now one of you” – Vincent Lecavalier, during his speech at the number retirement ceremony"

Lecavalier’s 4 will join Martin St. Louis‘s 26 in the rafters of Amalie Arena as the only numbers to be retired by the Lightning thus far.  As a gift to commemorate the occasion, the Lightning gifted Lecavalier with a watch that we are guessing was very, very expensive.

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The numeric breakdown of Lecavalier’s career in Tampa is a telling of how dominant of a force he was for the Lightning.  In 14 seasons and 1,337 games, he scored 383 goals and 874 points.  He was also a four-time all-star and was a member of the Lightning’s only Stanley Cup-winning team.  Well deserved Mr. Lecavalier, and thank you for your dedication to the Lightning.