Former Flyers weigh in on Lecavalier signing

Former Flyers weigh in on Lecavalier signing

July 3, 2013, 1:15 pm
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The reaction amongst some rather famous ex-Flyers to the acquisition of Vinny Lecavalier was mostly positive.
 
And pride very well might be the single, biggest motivation for the 33-year-old centerman after being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
 
“When you get bought [out], there is that pride factor,” said Rick Tocchet, who coached Lecavalier for two seasons in Tampa and now does work for Comcast SportsNet. “One thing I like is he will be motivated to come here now. He still has a very good shot. He’ll play to his size, but you need to put him with faster players. He’ll struggle with slower, big guys.”
 
NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick said Tocchet is dead on.
 
“It is embarrassing to be bought out, and Vinny is a proud guy,” Roenick said. “It’s time for Vinny to show the hockey world that he can again play the game at a high level. He does that and it’s a great deal.”
 
Fellow NBC hockey analyst Keith Jones thinks this signing will rejuvenate Lecavalier.
 
“I like it,” Jones said. “You didn’t have to give up anyone off your roster and you got him for $2 million less you were paying [Danny] Briere with the cap hit. He’s better than Briere at this point in his career. He’s bigger and he will drop the gloves like he did this season with Luke Schenn.”
 
No one had higher praise than Flyers coach Peter Laviolette.
 
“He is going to be great,” Laviolette predicted.
 
Laviolette’s Flyers play a very up-tempo style.  Lecavalier is not as fast as he once was. Pace could be an issue if he’s logging 18 to 20 minutes of ice time a night. On the plus side, he's 6-foot-4. The Flyers have not had a centerman of that size since Keith Primeau (6-5).
 
“His pace is not an issue,” Laviolette assured. “He will help in many areas -- on the power play, his experience and his size, his leadership. He has top-six skill. We are, I am, very happy he is in orange and black.”
 
Tocchet and Jones said that pairing Lecavalier with faster players, such as Wayne Simmonds,  will force Lecavalier to keep his feet moving on the ice.
 
“There was time when Lecavalier was in top 10 players in league,” Jones said. “Things got stale for him in Tampa. It wasn’t [a] money signing here. He looked at the roster, and playing with [Claude] Giroux, and [thought] the Flyers are real hungry to get things turned around.”
 
Lecavalier has had a fair number of injuries late in his 14-year NHL career, making the five-year deal rather risky:
 
• left wrist surgery after 2006-07 season (cartilage) 
• right shoulder surgery after 2007-08 (labrum) 
• right wrist at end of 2008-09 (cartilage) 
• right knee arthroscopic in Aug. 2010 
• broken hand (2011-12)
• broken foot (2012-13)
 
Injuries even bit Lecavalier during the lockout, although he was healthy at season’s end. If you throw out the lockout year (10 goals, 32 points) which was awful for many NHL players, and take the previous five years, Lecavalier has averaged 28 goals and 66 points.
 
Can he be that kind of player again?
 
“I like Vinny, he’s still a very good player,” Roenick said. “He has dealt with some injuries the last couple of years. He has a reputation of not being consistent.
 
“Vinny has to decide what kind of player he wants to be remembered as. Does he want to be known as tough, talented goal scorer who was great as a power play specialist and who had a mean streak about him?”
 
Roenick said Lecavalier would be a good “commodity” for the franchise. Lecavalier was beloved in the Tampa community because of his off-ice charitable endeavors. That should translate over to the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives campaign, which is the largest in all of professional sports.
 
“He has to step up his dedication to the game and make the Flyers proud that they brought him on after his team didn’t want him,” Roenick said.
 
Incidentally, our panelists -- minus Laviolette -- are all concerned about the Flyers' cap situation and how that translates into getting a good, veteran goalie when free agency begins on Friday.
 
Loose pucks
Lecavalier will wear No. 40 with the Flyers since No. 4 is retired. Mark Streit will wear No. 32.