|Vincent Lecavalier speaks onstage after receiving the 10th annual NHL Foundation Player Award.
Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier took a break from his rehab schedule to make a whirlwind visit to Pittsburgh yesterday to be honored for his work in the Tampa Bay community. Lecavalier, along with Vancouver Canucks center Trevor Linden, was awarded the 10th Annual National Hockey League Foundation Player award in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in their communities. The NHL Foundation presented $25,000 to the Vinny Lecavalier Foundation at a special NHL Awards presentation on at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Lecavalier was chosen for the award due to his unprecedented $3 million commitment to build The Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Scheduled to open in 2009, theCenter will be one of the largest pediatric cancer centers in Florida, occupying half of the seventh floor in the new All Children’s Hospital.
More than half of the funds will be gifted through the Foundation by Lecavalier and Foundation legacy partners. The remaining dollars will be raised through the community and Foundation efforts such as Lecavalier's annual Texas Hold’Em Celebrity Poker Tournament, which has netted more than $250,000 in its first two years.
“Even at a young age, my parents, Yvon and Christiane, always stressed to me the importance of helping others,” Lecavalier said. “Through the lessons they taught me I had the opportunity to learn so much about the important things in life, such as being a giving person. Since the day I became a member of the Tampa Bay community 10 years ago, I knew I wanted to find an important project to focus my energies on. The pediatric cancer center at All Children’s Hospital is that place, where special people are working tirelessly to have a life-changing impact on our community’s most precious commodity – the children. I am honored to share this recognition with Trevor, and I’m humbled by the opportunity I have to help make a difference for those in need.”
Lecavalier traveled to Pittsburgh Tuesday evening and was honored at the luncheon along with Linden, Toronto’s Mats Sundin (Mark Messier Leadership Award) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (Art Ross Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy). After the luncheon and the prerequisite media interaction, Lecavalier hustled back to the airport to get back to Tampa for continuing rehab on his surgically-repaired shoulder.
In its 10th year, the NHL Foundation Player Award recognizes an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community. Past recipients honored for their charitable work were: Joe Sakic (2007); Marty Turco (2006); Jarome Iginla (2004); Darren McCarty (2003); Ron Francis (2002); Olaf Kolzig (2001); Adam Graves (2000); Rob Ray (1999); and Kelly Chase (1998).
The NHL Foundation judging panel consists of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman; NHL Senior Vice President, Communications and NHL Foundation Executive Director Bernadette Mansur and NHL Vice President of Community & Diversity Programming Kenneth Martin, Jr.