Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/25/07 at 03:20 PM ET
Vincent Lecavalier participated in an NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Do you ever reflect back on the lockout and did it spoil the momentum of Tampa? Do you think if there had been no lockout, you might have picked up where you left off?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: Well, obviously we had it broken a little bit. Because after you’ve won a Cup, you’re excited to come back into the season. I had to go play in Russia. Guys were playing in Europe. Some guys weren’t playing at all. Yeah, I think it definitely didn’t help. But there’s no excuse for anything. Everybody started again after that, the next year after that, so..
Q. Do you like the makeup of this year’s team? Do you think you can rekindle that old success, looking at what Tampa has now?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: I really do. I think we have a great team. I think we have a great offensive team. With the additions of some guys like Chris Gratton, who is a big guy, he can score some goals. He puts a lot of depth into our lineup. Guys like (Brad) Lukowich, who won the Cup with us in ‘04, is back. Just to have these veteran players around, same core guys from last year, some younger guys coming up, so I’m feeling very confident.
Q. 52 goals is amazing in this day and age of a low-scoring National Hockey League. What are your secrets? Why does the puck go in for you a little bit more? Around the league the last couple years, goals have been at a premium.
VINCENT LECAVALIER: Well, I always say I think the secret was Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal. I think our lined really clicked last year. It was the first year we played together. We started off very well, but then you get this confidence and it just keeps on rolling and rolling. We just kept going.
We had a very good power play. You get a lot of opportunities on the power play and also penalty killing playing with Marty. He’s so fast, he’s so aggressive, you’ve got no choice but to play like him when you’re with him. He really brought a lot of consistency into my game.
Q. You’ve seen obviously the Southeast Division come a long way since you first started in Tampa. Can you talk about how hard of a division it is now, some of the great players in the Southeast. Can you talk about the success you’ve had in Tampa Bay with selling hockey. Climbed up the charts in attendance year by year. What have you done successfully down there in Tampa?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: Well, I’ll start with the conference. I think from ‘98, where people thought it was a weak division, to now, I think it’s a great division. They get better every year. I think it’s going to be a battle this year. Atlanta won it last year. But there are teams like Washington with Ovechkin, and Carolina we know is going to have a good year this year because they won the Cup and last year didn’t go as well for them. We know they’ll be ready. I think it’s just a great rivalry. When you play teams eight times during the year, it definitely builds that rivalry and makes it tough to win the division. But I think it’s a great division. It’s getting better every year.
For hockey in Tampa, I think obviously winning the Cup was pretty big. But it really started before that. When I first got in the league in ‘98, it was great, but there wasn’t that many people at the games. Now it’s pretty much sold out every single game and people are excited about the starting of the season. I think it really started the first time we played the playoffs, people really saw what type of team we were. They’re very supportive. I think every year it’s getting bigger in Tampa, for sure.
Q. Have you seen kids increase as far as kinds on the South that aren’t accustomed to playing hockey? Do you see that in Tampa a lot?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: Definitely. The rinks, now, I don’t think there’s enough arenas in Florida. In Tampa anyways kids have to drive 40 minutes because there’s not as many rinks as players. I think the growth for kids that want to play hockey is so big, it’s even tough for the parents. They have to drive 45 minutes, an hour. It’s not as easy like in Canada, where there’s an arena in every single town. The growth is there. Kids are really loving the game. But obviously when they saw us win the Cup, I think that definitely really helped.
Q. Do you take any pride in knowing you’re one of the stars in the South, that kids look up to you? How do you view that?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: I really don’t know how to answer that question. I just do my best. I try to be as good a model as I can be for the kids. Hopefully I think I’m doing a pretty nice job. I think our organization is great like that, too. I think they’re really into the community. I think that’s why the hockey is growing like that. Guys really respect the players.
Q. Can you tell me if you’ve ever been through a situation where a skate fell on your wrist like Dan Boyle?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: You know, I’ve never heard of anything like that. It’s definitely bad luck. I mean, Dan Boyle came in the dressing room, and obviously there was a lot of blood. I’ve never really seen a cut that deep on anybody. We were all very scared. But it’s bad luck. I mean, training camp. I don’t know what to say. It’s just something that obviously you don’t wish on anybody.
Q. What are the odds of a skate would fall from there and just not fall on the floor?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: I’ve never seen a skate really fall from on top over there where we have our skates. I couldn’t even tell. For it to fall, fall exactly on the wrist, and obviously wrists are very, very important for hockey players. If it would have fell on his shoulder or somewhere else on his arm, it could have been okay, a couple stitches. But to fall on the wrist, it’s definitely bad luck.
Q. How will you do without Dan Boyle getting the puck up to the forwards?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: He’s definitely a big part of our team. He plays 30 minutes a game, first of all. He can take that puck out of the zone pretty good. One of the best in the league. He’s a tough guy to replace. We’re going to have to do some things differently to try to improve our offense the first four or six weeks.
Q. Have you noticed the last couple of years that every time you come on the ice, the other team’s best two defensemen are on the ice against you?
VINCENT LECAVALIER: Yeah, it’s definitely tough. I mean, when you play against—there’s some pretty big defensemen out there. Pretty tall guys, 6’5”, 6’6”. You look in our division with Florida Panthers, when you have (Bryan) Allen and (Jay) Bouwmeester, two really tall guys that can skate, they’re very mobile, it’s tough, it really is. You have to go through that. You have to be maybe more physical or play more simple, put the puck behind them instead of trying to deke them or something like that because it’s probably not going to work. So play simple, try to do some two-on-ones against them.
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