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Lecavalier reaches 1,000-game mark with Lightning

by Dan Rosen

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Vincent Lecavalier would have preferred to play in his 1,000th career game at the Tampa Times Forum, probably against the Montreal Canadiens or any other Original Six team. He's happy to settle for a Monday afternoon tilt at Nassau Coliseum against the New York Islanders, because all Lecavalier really cares about is that he'll be wearing a Lightning jersey when he reaches the milestone.

The Lightning drafted Lecavalier, now 32 years old, with the first pick in the 1998 NHL Draft. He made his debut a few months later as an 18-year-old and has registered 844 points in 999 career games, all with the Lightning. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Only four other former No. 1 picks in NHL history (Mike Modano, Gilbert Perreault, Denis Potvin and Chris Phillips) have reached the 1,000-game milestone with the team that drafted them.

"Throughout my career I've had a lot of trade rumors for a lot of years so to still be part of this, especially now, this great organization with Mr. [Jeff] Vinik [is special]," said Lecavalier, who has been Tampa Bay's captain since 2008. "It's kind of a new start, a new leaf with this organization. With everything they're doing for the community and the team, I'm happy to be playing my 1,000th game with them and the players we have now.

"It makes me want to keep playing."

Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who has been behind the bench for the last 129 games Lecavalier has played (he missed 17 games in 2010-11 and 18 games last season), credited the captain's milestone to his "loyalty and dedication" to the Lightning.

"I like the fact that it's with the same team," Boucher said. "I think it just says a lot about the character and type of person that he is and the connection he has with our fans back home. It's too bad we're not [playing this game at home] for him, but I'm sure the next home game the fans will be able to congratulate him and show their appreciation for his commitment."


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