When Vincent Lecavalier came into the NHL, there were a lot of lofty expectations and some bumps along the way to a Stanley Cup.
At just 25, the Lightning star is already a grizzled veteran who appreciates the grueling journey almost as much as the final destination. In this week's Facing Off, Lecavalier discusses winning hockey's ultimate hardware with ESPN's David Amber.
Question from David Amber: How has winning the Stanley Cup changed the hockey landscape in the state of Florida?
Answer from Lecavalier: I can't talk for all of Florida, but for Tampa and the surrounding area, it has been huge. We came back after a lockout that lasted a year and the buzz is still there and the people are so excited. Five years ago, people didn't recognize us in the streets and now people are so excited before the games. So for us to win a Stanley Cup was special, especially after the Bucs won a Super Bowl a few years earlier.
Q: As a former No. 1 pick, what advice do you have for Sidney Crosby?
A: He should just keep doing whatever he's doing. He's mature, he's playing well, everything seems to be working out. He has the talent and the work ethic, so things will be fine.
Q: What are your first impressions of Crosby as a player?
A: He's unbelievable. I didn't know what to expect -- I saw him play two games in Rimouski and I wasn't sure how he was going to handle it in the NHL. But he's skating, he's passing the puck, he is so quick and so fast, he'll be fine.
Q: How has your relationship with Coach [John] Tortorella changed through the years?
A: Three years ago, it didn't go so well at first. A lot of people told me I was going to get traded. But now, we are going in the same direction. I think the whole thing was exaggerated.
Q: What was the problem between you and Coach Tortorella at the beginning?
A: I don't know. There were a couple of things we didn't agree on. We had meetings to get on the same page and I think we did slowly and now we have won a Cup, so we are going in the same direction and things are good.
Q: After the 2001 season, you were stripped of your captaincy by the Lightning. How did you react to that?
A: At first, I was kind of upset. It's hard to have your captaincy taken away. But Dave Andreychuk took it and there is no better guy than him. He had been in the league for 19 years at the time, and clearly he deserves to have the "C" on his jersey.
Q: What did winning the cup mean to Andreychuk after so many seasons?
A: When he first came to Tampa, I think he just wanted to finish his career there. We weren't really the best team in the league. But once we made the playoffs and we realized we had a legitimate chance, things changed. For him to win that Cup and play all those years was unbelievable. It just proves how rare it is to win the Cup and how hard it is. I'm only 25 years old, I've won it once but it doesn't mean I'll win it again, so it was special for him getting it after all those years.
Q: What was the highlight for you, the two days you got to keep the Stanley Cup?
A: Just sharing it with my family and friends. Taking pictures with my grandparents was cool. It was amazing knowing that my dad has been watching hockey his whole life and the Stanley Cup was in his house. Downstairs, there are all the pictures from when I was 6 years old all the way through juniors and now we have pictures with the Stanley Cup. Just being able to share the Cup with friends and family was the highlight for sure.
Q: Tell me the truth, did you sleep with the Cup?
A: Oh yeah, I did. I'm sure everyone did. It felt good, it was two quick days, so you're always with the Cup.
Q: What types of music do you listen to?
A: I like everything from hip-hop to techno to Metallica. Before games, we listen to a bunch of stuff. Right now, we're listening to Ice-T, followed up by Metallica and we always end with "Final Countdown" by Europe. That always gets us pumped up.
Q: I understand you have a growing modeling career. How did you get into that?
A: [Laughs] I don't model, come on. I did a couple of pictures, but nothing too big.
Q: A couple of pictures? I read you were in GQ. How tiring are those photo shoots?
A: You know what, they are tiring. They take five or six hours, so it's gets kind of boring. It's the opposite of hockey, not too much action during the shoots, so I like hockey a lot better.
Q: What do your teammates think of your modeling career?
A: I've only done it five times in seven years, so it's not that big a deal. But every time something comes out, they are all over me, but it's fun.
Q: If the Lightning had to choose one player for a shootout, who is the better choice, you or Martin St. Louis?
A: [Laughs] That's a tough question. Marty is really good in shootouts.
Q: Oh, come on. Is that your answer?
A: [Laughs] I believe in myself. But Marty's really good in shootouts. This season, I scored in my only shootout. I got lucky on a breakaway and scored on Olaf Kolzig.
Q: Who would be the toughest goalie to face in a shootout?
A: Maybe Marty Brodeur or [Roberto] Luongo maybe. In exhibition, I went twice against Luongo and didn't score. He's just so big. You just don't know where to shoot.
Q: What's the best thing about the new NHL?
A: There's no hooking or grabbing, hopefully the referees will stay on top of that. You move freely, you don't get hooked down. You can actually go around defensemen without them grabbing your jersey, so that's the best part.
Q: How much are you looking forward to the upcoming Winter Olympics?
A: It would be a great opportunity to play for Canada. The team hasn't been named, but I would love to be part of it. The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world, so to be part of that would be unbelievable.
David Amber is an anchor for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com.