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Lecavalier: 'Definitely still the plan' to retire

Kings center, 17-year veteran says he likely played last NHL game

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

Media Availability - Lecavalier

Vincent Lecavalier on the season and the future

Vincent Lecavalier of the LA Kings spoke during media availability on 4/24/16

  • 08:07 •

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Vincent Lecavalier is standing by his word. After 17 seasons in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings center will retire.

Lecavalier has said repeatedly that the 2015-16 season would be his last and made the formal announcement at the Kings' practice facility on Sunday.

"It's definitely still the plan," the 36-year-old center said. "It's the same plan as when I first got here a few months ago."

Lecavalier, 36, spent 14 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, serving as captain on two occasions and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2004. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the League's top goal scorer in 2007 with 52 and the King Clancy Trophy the following year, honoring him for his contributions to growing the game of hockey in the Tampa area.

He signed with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the 2013-14 season and played in Philadelphia until being traded to Los Angeles on Jan. 8. Lecavalier was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions with the Flyers. Knowing he could still contribute, a conversation with Kings president of business operations and fellow Montreal native Luc Robitaille changed the course of his final season.

"I look back in November with my conversation with Luc and I said, 'Hey, I think I'm stuck here. I'm not playing,'" Lecavalier said. "To get a chance to play on this team and to have fun and to learn, it was just a great time."

Lecavalier scored 10 goals and had seven assists in 42 games with the Kings. He played big minutes in centering the third line and on the power play. He had one goal and one assist in a five-game defeat to the San Jose Sharks in the best-of-7 first round series. His contributions and play were so impressive that many wondered whether or not he would decide to put off retirement.

In the handshake line following Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round against the San Jose Sharks, many of the Sharks told Lecavalier to keep playing.

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

"I think he proved to everybody that he wasn't going to sit back and let the year go by with nothing to give," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. "He came here and gave us everything that we expected and everything we've asked for. I think he was a great addition at the deadline for us… It's too bad we didn't have the run that we wanted to, but I still think that he enjoyed his time here."

With his family currently residing in Los Angeles' South Bay neighborhood and his oldest son playing in the Junior Kings program, he said the family will remain in the area for now but will ultimately return to Tampa. Still unsure of his future plans, he knows that eventually he wants to help grow the game of hockey in South Florida.

"There's probably about 10 guys from when we won the Cup that are there now and I think they're growing the game," Lecavalier said. "This is unreal, this (Junior) Kings program that my son has been playing in. They say it's grown in the last four or five years and that makes sense. The winning makes it bigger and the teams get involved and that's what teams have to do to help grow the game. They do a great job here and I'm obviously going to help in Tampa."

Lecavalier has 421 goals and 528 assists in 1,212 regular season NHL games and 26 goals and 30 assists in 75 postseason games. He has yet to file formal retirement papers but said that step will come soon.

"That last shift was definitely a weird feeling," he said. "I've had a lot of good moments. One of the best was winning the Cup. But to get a second chance at playing when you think you might not play again was great. This was just a really good experience for me."

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