The Ile Bizard, Quebec native netted 52 goals during the regular season, making him the first French-Canadian-born player since Hall-of-Famer Mario Lemieux to lead the NHL in goals scored. The first player in the history of the NHL to score 50 was Richard, the name-sake of the award. Lecavalier is the 10th player to tally 50 goals since the 1998-99 season.
The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy was a gift to the NHL from the Montreal Canadiens in 1999 and honors one of the game’s greatest stars. During his 18-year career with Montreal from 1942-1960, Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals in his career. He played on eight Stanley Cup Championship teams and led the league in goal-scoring five times.
Richard’s brother Henri was on hand to present the trophy to Lecavalier at the NHL Awards ceremony. Also at the presentation, the Art Ross Trophy (regular season points leader) was awarded to the Pittsburgh Penguin’s Sidney Crosby while the William M. Jennings Trophy (goalies with min. 25 games played for the team with the fewest goals scored against it) was awarded to goaltenders Manny Fernandez and Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild.
The following is the transcript from the awards presentation:
ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN: That leaves one more, the Rocket Richard Trophy.
It's only fitting to welcome Mr. Henri Richard back up to present the trophy that's named in honor of his brother, Maurice. This year's winner is probably closest known for what Rocket Richard because he was in the Rocket movie playing the role of Jean Beliveau, whose number he wears in honor of.
I was speaking with one of my compatriots, and he was telling me what a huge day this is in the province of Quebec, because for the first time the Rocket Richard Trophy is won by a francophone player. I know that means as much to him as it does to them.
Please welcome Vincent Lecavalier
, this year's goal scoring leader in the NHL.
Thanks again, Henri. It was a pleasure to hear you and the other Canadiens last night.
Well Vincent, you grew up a huge Canadiens fan. Your father is here, a big Canadiens fan. You wear a No. 4 in honor of Jean Beliveau. But the Rocket for a lot was the legend. What were you told over the years about Maurice Richard?VINCENT LECAVALIER
: First of all, it means a lot, being French Canadian from Quebec, it's definitely a great honor. I grew up reading about Maurice Richard and all the great stories. And it's just a great honor to be up here. I never thought it would happen and it did. So I'm very happy.
ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN: Pat Burns said that you were the best player he saw this year. He watches a lot of Tampa games. Was this, you felt, your best season in the National Hockey League?VINCENT LECAVALIER
: I think when you get into the league at 18 years old, you're very young. Every year you get a little bit better. You get more mature. Plus this year I had a chance to play with two unbelievable players: Martin St. Louis
and Vaclav Prospal. I'm very lucky to be on the same team with these two guys.
ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN: All right. This is your moment. We'll ask you to have a seat over here and we'll start taking questions from the assorted media here and by conference call.
Thank you, Vincent. Congratulations.
FRANK BROWN: I'd like to welcome the media here and across North America on the conference call.
Questions for Vincent.
Q. Vinny, are you at all worried this summer what's going to happen with Tampa with the cap situation and so forth, you and Brad?VINCENT LECAVALIER
: We've learned this week that they're going to keep the budget the same or even maybe try to bring it up. So I think Jay Feaster is doing a great job at that and it shows the commitment of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
So, I mean, you never know in hockey what can happen. But from what I hear and from the meetings I've had at the end of the year, I think they'll keep the same guys.
Q. You mentioned your linemates before. What is it about those guys that allowed you to do what you did this year?VINCENT LECAVALIER
: We've got two guys I'll start with Marty St. Louis. He's probably the hardest working guy in the league. He's not a big guy, but when he goes into a corner he comes out with a puck.
Just both these guys, how determined they are, you have no choice with them. It doesn't matter if it's sometimes 82 games is a lot of games. Sometimes you're tired or sometimes you're not playing as well as you should. But these guys really they really pushed me and we pushed each other. I think that's what made our line very successful this year?
Q. In the run up to this announcement, there were some points made about the significance of you being the first Quebec born player to win this award. Can you talk about that for yourself personally and what it means?VINCENT LECAVALIER
: Definitely means a lot. Like I said before, Maurice Richard is a legend in Montreal. Even though I didn't really see him play, we still heard stories about him. And just I go back to Montreal now and people are very happy that they would come up to me in the streets and say how proud they were of me being the first French Canadian to win that trophy.
It just really means a lot and I never thought that it would happen, and it did. So just very happy that everything went the way it did this year.
Q. Having scored 50 goals for the first time, do you have a new appreciation of how hard it is to reach that milestone? And now that you've done it, do you kind of set your sights on maybe 60 at some point in your career?VINCENT LECAVALIER
: Before this year, the most goals I've had was in juniors where I had 44. So every year I tell myself I want to have a better year. I think this year, like I said before, playing with Martin St. Louis
and Vaclav Prospal, it helps so much. These guys are so they're so determined and everything. So it really helped. We helped each other.
But for next year, I just want to have a good year and keep that confidence going and hopefully things will go well.