Vinny Lecavalier Has the Most To Prove for the Tampa Bay Lightning

John BradleyContributor IOctober 12, 2009

WASHINGTON - MARCH 27:  Vincent Lecavalier #4 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Washington Capitals on March 27, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Victor Hedman wants to prove himself as a Calder trophy candidate.  Steven Stamkos wants to prove the second half of last season was the true Stamkos.  Mike Smith wants to prove he is a bona fide NHL No. 1.  Marty St. Louis wants to prove he is still young enough and big enough to continue at the level of NHL superstar. 

But it’s Vinny Lecavalier who is the Bolt with the most to prove.

Vincent Lecavalier is the 6’4 guy flying down the ice at the St. Pete Times Forum in the No. 4 jersey.  He can be seen stick-handling through his legs, or through the legs of an opponent.  He possesses a blistering shot, and is a superstar that is not afraid to drop the gloves and blister someone’s face as well. 

He is a champion that has brought home a Stanley Cup.  He has given back to the community with grand gestures like the development of a pediatric center. And he has a dedicated allegiance of fans in Tampa Bay, including many of the ladies.

He is everything you want in a franchise player, and his name has become the embodiment of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey.  What more could he possibly have to prove?  Everything.

For starters, Lecavalier is coming off a 2008-2009 season that was pretty lackluster by his own standards.  His 29 goals was his worst mark since 2001-2002, and well off his Rocket Richard output of 52 goals two seasons ago.  But last season’s campaign was marred by a number of outside factors. 

Vinny spent the majority of the season hampered by nagging injuries and nagging reporters chasing trade rumors.  With a clean bill of health after corrective surgery, and a no trade clause in full effect, Lecavalier should be able to enter the season with a “don’t worry be happy” mentality. 

Lecavalier will have a couple of marks to live up to in order to prove himself in the 2009-2010 season.  The Lightning is counting on him to live up to the “C” on his sweater and really take command of this hockey club, as they return from their own lackluster season.  The team is also hoping he will live up to his 11 year, $85 million dollar contract and silence the critics that suggest he is overpaid.

Vincent Lecavalier also needs to prove that Martin St. Louis isn’t the engine that drives him.  It’s no secret that when the speedy St. Louis has been off Lecavalier’s line, his point totals have suffered.  Lecavalier himself has heralded Marty as a large factor in his success. 

Now St. Louis has found chemistry in a new linemate with Steven Stamkos, forcing Lecavalier to audition for new talent on his wing.  Vinny needs to show that he brings the best out of those around him, not vice versa.

Besides garnering wins for the Lightning out of the gate, it’s imperative that Vinny gets off to a quick start for a more personal reason: to prove himself to those who will select Team Canada. 

Vincent Lecavalier was invited to the Team Canada orientation camp, but he is by no means a lock to make the team.  Playing for Canada, in Canada, in the Olympics, will surely be on the minds of all Canadians in the NHL this season.  Vinny will need a superb start if he wants to be announced when the selections are made in December.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have to make a statement this season, and Vinny has to lead the charge.  For a player that has already done so much for a team, it seems a bit much to ask for more, but it’s time for Vincent Lecavalier to prove himself once and for all.