Lecavalier: We just want to turn the page

August, 28, 2009

CALGARY, Alberta -- Canada's Olympic hopefuls made their way home Friday, among them a refreshed and healthy Vincent Lecavalier.

The Tampa Bay Lightning's star captain is eager to forget last season's soap opera, highlighted by a coach's firing, his own constant trade rumors, bickering owners and a brutal team record that resulted in the second overall pick in the 2009 draft.

"It was a tough year overall," Lecavalier told ESPN.com. "A lot of distractions. We just want to turn the page; I think the whole organization just wants to. When you finished second to last, you're obviously not very happy. Hopefully we'll have a great start this year and go from there."

With the addition of second overall pick Victor Hedman, a stud blueliner, as well as veteran defenseman Mattias Ohlund, Lecavalier sees hope.

"I think it's really going help us," he said of the additions. "We also had some injuries of last year with [goalie] Mike Smith and [defensemen Paul] Ranger and [Andrej] Meszaros. Everyone is going to be healthy, and we're excited about that."

Including himself. Recovering from offseason shoulder surgery last summer, Lecavalier was behind the 8-ball from get-go last season, and it showed as he dipped to 67 points (29-38) in 77 games, down from 92 points the previous season and 108 in 2006-07. In April, he also had surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right wrist, a procedure he was originally set to have in 2008 but was delayed by the previous shoulder operation.

"It was kind of a half-training last summer because I was recovering from the shoulder surgery," said Lecavalier, who is 29 and entering his 11th NHL season. "I think that played a part in me being more fatigued out there. When you're tired, mentally you're making wrong decisions on the ice. It really starts there. That's why I made sure this year. I trained really hard this summer. I want to feel fresh.

"The shoulder feels pretty much 100 percent, so I'm pretty happy about that."

He's also pretty happy about July 1 coming and going. That's when his no-movement clause kicked in. After months of trade speculation involving his hometown Montreal Canadiens, Lecavalier now controls his fate. No trade will happen without his consent, and given the squabbles between owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, that's a comforting feeling for Lecavalier. He's in charge.

"It feels great," said Lecavalier, whose 11-year, $85 million contract extension kicks in this season. "Obviously there was a lot of talk; I'm not sure what was true or what wasn't. But just from what I was reading and seeing in the media, it wasn't a lot of fun to go through that. I'm happy it's over with, and I'm happy to be part of the Lightning.

"I've been there for a lot of years. Hopefully we can turn it around and have a good year."



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