Author's Note: This is part of a five-part series detailing players who dazzled with their play and presence while lacing up the skates for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Some are currently on the roster, while others are either no longer with the club or have retired. The other players covered in the series are Dave Andreychuk, Martin St. Louis, Nikolai Khabibulin and Steven Stamkos.
Being a Tampa Bay Lightning fan is not the easiest task in the world right now. After a deep run into the playoffs last season that ended in a Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to eventual champions Boston, hopes were high headed into this season. With much of the roster intact, there was little reason to expect much of a drop-off.
Unfortunately, the 2011-2012 season has not gone to plan for the Tampa Bay Lightning so far, as their record is 14-17-2 and they currently sit in a distant fourth place in the Southeast Division.
In order to brighten the spirits of those downtrodden Lightning fans, here is a recap of some of the greatest individuals to ever play for the team and who gave fans plenty of reasons to cheer.
Most NHL franchises have one specific player that fans think of when they think of that team. They are essentially the all-time faces of their franchises. Pittsburgh has Mario Lemieux (although Crosby is encroaching on his territory), Phoenix has Shane Doan, and Edmonton has Wayne Gretzky.
The player that fulfills that role for the Tampa Bay Lightning is Vincent Lecavalier. He joined the Lightning in 1998 as the No. 1 pick in the draft, and has seen the team through the highs and lows of most of its existence.
When Vinny was made captain in 2000, he was the youngest player ever to be made captain in the NHL (although Sidney Crosby would later break that mark). After being stripped of his title for a lack of maturity, he didn't whine or pout or quit on his team, he just kept on playing hard and eventually won back the captaincy in 2008.
Lecavalier has made the All-Star game four times, including as a captain in 2008. He has also brought home the Rocket Richard, King Clancy Memorial and NHL Foundation trophies. There's also that 2004 Stanley Cup team on which Lecavalier played a major role with 66 points.
Vincent Lecavalier is the Tampa Bay Lightning's all-time leader in games played, goals scored and overall points. That makes him the single most important player to ever lace up the skates for the Lightning.