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Kings think Lecavalier 'can still kick around'

Success in Los Angeles may have put retirement in doubt

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- They said he was done. They said he was too old, too slow and ineffective.

But if you ask the Los Angeles Kings, they'll say that Vincent Lecavalier proved those doubters wrong.

After being traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Kings on Jan. 6, the veteran center found instant success. He had an assist in his first game and a three-game goal streak later that month. In what he has said is his final season in the NHL, Lecavalier scored 10 goals, all with Los Angeles, and assisted on seven.

Lecavalier, who turned 36 Thursday, had emphatically stated he planned to retire at the end of the season. That end came for the Kings on Friday at Staples Center, when they were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round.

But after producing so much in Los Angeles, it begs the question: Is this really the end for Lecavalier?

Video: SJS@LAK, GM2: Levacalier gets Kings on the board

"He certainly didn't look like he was done," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said of the 17-season veteran. "I don't know how many games he played with us, but the way he played, I certainly think he can still kick around."

Lecavalier declined to address any retirement questions after the loss. He said through a spokesman he would answer when the Kings reconvened for exit interviews.

Lecavalier was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Owner Art Williams compared him to NBA star Michael Jordan, and two years later Lecavalier was the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years old. He broke Tampa Bay's single-season point record and was the first Lightning player to score 50 goals in a season with 52 in 2006-07.  

Lecavalier previously stated a desire to play his entire career for Tampa Bay, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2004. But after a few seasons of declining production, the Lightning bought out his contract and he signed with Philadelphia in July 2013. He was sparsely used until arriving in Los Angeles, where he found a role that suited him.

The Kings didn't need too much, but what they did need they got, plus more.

"I think he gave us some really solid minutes," Kopitar said. "He played on the power play and scored some big goals for us down the stretch. I guess that's what we were looking for and he certainly delivered everything that was asked of him."

Lecavalier's career may be coming to an end, but if it's not, the Kings may take whatever is left.

"He brought character and I think he was a really good role model for some of our younger players," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "He was a champion. He was a pleasure to coach."

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