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Lightning set to honor Vincent Lecavalier

Top goal-scorer in franchise history helped Tampa Bay win Stanley Cup in 2004

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will honor former captain and franchise goal-scoring leader Vincent Lecavalier at Amalie Arena during their game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Lecavalier, the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, scored 383 goals in 1,037 games during 14 seasons with the Lightning. He helped the team win the 2004 Stanley Cup and continues to work with several charitable organizations in the Tampa area. Lecavalier won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer with 52 goals in 2006-07.

He retired on June 21 after finishing the 2015-16 season with the Los Angeles Kings. He also played with the Philadelphia Flyers for 2 1/2 seasons.

Lecavalier took current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos under his wing during Stamkos' early years with the Lightning. The two players came from similar situations; each was a No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft (Stamkos in 2008) and went through the pressure of being the face of the franchise.

"Vinny was a guy that I leaned on a lot as I came into the league because he was someone that went through what I was going through," Stamkos said. "So he was there in that regard. Obviously he was a tremendous player and a great leader."

Video: 2004 Cup Final, Gm7: Vinny Lecavalier dishes a beauty

Stamkos said Lecavalier's charitable work around the community is what makes his so special.

Lecavalier has been lauded for his work with young cancer patients, and he pledged $3 million to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. Two years later he participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's.

"The stuff he did away from the rink and in the community and how much he's entrenched himself and his family into this city is very special," Stamkos said. "That's something I've always looked up to Vinny for. He's a great role model."

Defenseman Victor Hedman, the No. 2 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, said having veteran leaders like Lecavalier to learn from was crucial in his development as a player.

"Coming in as an 18-year-old and to have those kind of veteran guys around was great for me," Hedman said. "He was captain of the team and a very humble, hard-working guy on the ice. He's done so much for this team and this community. I was fortunate to play with him for a long time, and I'm looking forward to seeing him get honored and get the appreciation that he really deserves."

Lecavalier was captain when the Lightning got to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2011. It was the first playoff experience for Stamkos and Hedman, and it was a sign of things to come for the Lightning.

"Vinny and Martin [St. Louis] were the leaders on the team, and to be able to follow in their footsteps was huge for me and Stamkos as well," Hedman said. "To have our first big playoff run with those guys teaching us and pushing us harder was a great learning experience. They knew what it took to win a championship and they wanted us to get to that level."

Stamkos said Lecavalier liked to lead by example.

"He was a quiet guy who wanted to show the example of how to be a professional," Stamkos said. "[St. Louis] was more vocal, and I am a little more like that. But I picked up on a lot of things both guys did when they were here."

Lightning forward Ryan Callahan never played with Lecavalier, but he did compete against him on numerous occasions while playing for the New York Rangers and said it was always a difficult challenge.

"Not only did he have a lot of skill but and he had so much skill for a guy as big as he was," Callahan said. "He was extremely hard to move off the puck and he was tough to play. He was on the front page of the scouting report. You knew he was the guy you had to stop when you played the Lightning."

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