(Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning will use a compliance buy-out, as allowed by the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, on center Vincent Lecavalier , vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Lecavalier becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 5, eligible to sign with any team in the NHL, except Tampa Bay. The Lightning will pay Lecavalier two-thirds of the value of his existing contract over twice the term of the deal.
“Vinny has been a significant reason for many of our past successes, including the 2004 Stanley Cup, and his contributions to the community are immeasurable,” said Yzerman upon announcing the buyout. “The Lightning organization is indebted to Vinny; we thank him for all he has done here and we wish him well as he moves forward.
“After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out. The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us.”
Lecavalier was a first overall selection by the Lightning in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He is the Tampa Bay’s all-time leader for games played with 1,037, goals with 383, power play goals with 112 and game-winning goals with 60. Lecavalier played 14 seasons in Tampa Bay, posting 12 consecutive seasons with 20 goals or more, four NHL All-Star appearances and a Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer (52 in 2006-07). He served as an alternate captain in 2004 when the Lightning won the franchise’s first and only Stanley Cup. The NHL also recognized Lecavalier for his community contributions with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2008. He formed the Vinny Lecavalier Foundation in 2003, eventually opening the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg in 2010.