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Vincent Lecavalier officially announces retirement

Vincent Lecavalier has retired marking the end of a brilliant career that included a Stanley Cup and a Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy. 

The 36-year-old Lecavalier finished a sterling career where he played 1,212 games, scored 421 goals and notched 949 points. He played 1,037 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning before he was bought out by the team in the summer of 2013.

He spent two-plus seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and then half of this past year with the Kings.

He was known as one of the top players of his generation and one of the more charitable superstars during his time in the NHL.

Lecavalier released a statement through the Kings about his retirement.

Hockey has provided me so much in my lifetime but requires an incredible commitment. It is now time for me to devote more time to my family.  

I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who have helped me along the way and shared this journey with me.  First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents, my wife, Caroline, my brother Philippe, sister Genevieve and my entire family.  I could not have accomplished anything without your love and support.  Thank you to the Tampa Bay Lightning for drafting me and providing me the opportunity to embark on my NHL career.  I will never forget winning the Cup together in 2004, and the incredible support from Lightning fans.  To the LA Kings, thank you for providing me the opportunity to finish my career on a positive note.  To the coaches who have developed me and challenged me - you made me a better player and person.  To my agent, Kent Hughes, thank you for all your efforts and support throughout my career.   

Hockey is the greatest team sport in the world.  There is nothing like sharing a locker room with your teammates and competing together day in and day out.  I have made lifelong friends and I’d like to thank them for making this an unforgettable journey…. Thank you 

Lecavalier entered the NHL under massive expectations in the 1998-99 season. Then-owner Art Williams called him the "Michael Jordan of hockey” which was an almost unachievable lofty level. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft. 

Lecavalier only had 28 points that first year, but then found his groove in his second season with 67 points and 25 goals in 80 games played.

In 2003-04, Lecavalier was an important part of the Lightning team that won a Stanley Cup. He finished second in goals with that team and had 66 points. His finest statistical season came in 2006-07 when he had 52 goals, which led the NHL, and notched 108 points. During his career he made four All-Star teams.

Lecavalier signed with Philly in the 2013 offseason, after he was bought out from the Lightning, to play for coach Peter Laviolette. Three games into the 2013-14 season Laviolette was fired and Lecavalier didn’t seem to mesh as well with then-coach Craig Berube. His first season with the Flyers he had 37 points in 69 games. In 2014-15 he had just 20 points in 57 games played. The deal was for five years at $22.5 million.

This past year with new coach Dave Hakstol, Lecavalier also struggled to find a groove, playing just seven games.

A trade to the Kings gave Lecavalier some life back to his career. With LA he had 10 goals and 17 points in a mostly third-line role in 42 games. After the deal, Lecavalier staunchly said he would retire after the season and never indicated otherwise, even after he continued to play well for the Kings.

The Flyers picked up half of Lecavalier’s salary, which helped him fit in the Kings’ structure last year, but the team had near $68.1 million tied into 36 contracts for next season, including Lecavalier’s deal.

This gave them minimal salary cap flexibility moving forward and probably quickened the end of his career.

Still, in many ways Lecavalier still went out on his own terms. With Los Angeles he proved he could play an important role and do it well at the highest of levels which was important to him.

Is he a Hall of Famer?

He played over 1,000 games, won a Cup and won a goal scoring title, which are all big milestones. He may not have been like Michael Jordan, but he left a lasting impression on the league and helped make Tampa a hockey destination.  

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

 

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