In the late 1970s and early '80s, Marvel and DC Comics occasionally published “What If " adventures. “What If " allowed the comic writers to explore things that were not possible in the regular publishing cycle of popular titles like Superman, Batman, The Fantastic Four, and other titles.
“What If " allowed the writers to explore concepts that could not normally be delved into either because it would disrupt the natural flow of things or the sheer impossibility of the subject matter.
Lately a lot of discussion has revolved around the question “What If Vinny Lecavalier was traded to the Montreal Canadians ?" Although not the only trade rumor in the NHL it has been the most talked about along with the playoff berth seeking Atlanta Thrashers and their star player Ilya Kovalchuk.
This subject has received a lot of attention from numerous publications including the Hockey News . The reasons are obvious. If the Montreal Canadians were able to trade for Lecavalier, it would finally give them the hero that many faithful fans have dreamed of since Beliveau and Lafleur wore the red, white, and blue.
The Montreal Canadiens, who are celebrating their 100th year anniversary, have a rich history built on Stanley Cups won with the help of French Canadian stars. The Canadians always seemed to have a rich mixture of French and English players throughout their history. In the 1950s they had Richard and Beliveau, but they also had Harvey, Johnson, Blake, and Moore. In the 1970s they had Lafleur, Lapointe, and Lemaire, but also Mahovolich, Shutt, and Dryden.
Hall of Famers Beliveau, Richard, Geoffrion, Lafleur, and future inductee Patrick Roy have each significantly contributed to the Montreal mystique and helped stimulate support for more French Canadian superstars.
Lecavalier fits the mold for several reasons. Not only does he wear the fabled number 4 worn by his hero Jean Beliveau, but he also grew up in Quebec where he starred, like Beliveau, playing junior hockey. Lecavalier performed for Notre Dame and Rimouski Océanic in the QMJHL. He was the high profile star of his team before being drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL at age 18 years old.
During his two year tenure in juniors, Lecavalier won several high profile awards, including the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league’s top draft prospect and the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the top rookie forward. He also won the CHL Rookie of the Year award.
Québec fans were well aware of Lecavalier’s promise in juniors and followed the amateur draft closely hoping Montreal would pull off a last minute trade that would land Vinny in a Montreal jersey. Of course, it was not to be given that Tampa was pinning a lot of its hopes and dreams on Lecavalier becoming the Michael Jordan of hockey.
Much like Guy Lafleur, Lecavalier came to Tampa with high expectations and initially struggled to find his game. In his rookie year he scored a disappointing 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points in 82 contests. Lecavalier scored 25 goals and 42 assists for 61 points the next season, and his productivity continued to rise allowing him to compete for the Art Ross and the Rocket Richard Trophy .
Lecavalier soon after was appointed captain of the team, quite a honor and a lot of responsibility for a 19 year old. With the captaincy came a Stanley Cup, the Rocket Richard Trophy , and the King Clancy Trophy to go with several all star team selections.
Speculation and rumors have been fueled by Lacavalier’s eleven-year, $85 million dollar contract.
With the economy being soft in Florida and few NHL hockey arenas selling out home games, it is easy to reach the conclusion that Tampa Bay could acquire some very good players, some cash, and a better salary cap position by moving Lecavalier. Tampa after all has had its share of financial problems in the past.
Brian Lawton, formally Lecavalier’s agent and now the team’s General Manager, said, “Vinny would rather stay in Tampa.”
Still there are signs that the possibility of a blockbuster trade still exists. Besides wearing the number 4 as a tribute to Montreal great Jean Beliveau, Lecavalier made his motion picture debut playing Jean in the movie “The Rocket " filmed in Montreal.
At 29 years old, Lecavalier's in his prime and could contribute to a Stanley Cup run that would excite the city of Montreal.
Also, Molson has reacquired controlling interest in the Canadiens and just may have a interest in bringing a Stanley Cup to Bell Center and could use their considerable financial resources to make it happen.
One thing is for sure; “What If" will not go away any time soon, but neither will Vinny Lecavalier.