Saturday, June 27, 2009
Vincent Lecavalier was selected first overall on this date by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
In his two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Lecavalier had 86 goals and 131 assists for 217 points in 122 games. He was only the fifth player from the QMJHL to be picked first overall after Guy LaFleur, Mario Lemieux, Pierre Turgeon and Alexandre Daigle.
In March of 2000, he was made the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years and 11 months old, surpassing the old record of 21 years, 5 months held by Steve Yzerman.
In 2003-04 the Lighting won the Southeast Division, distancing themselves from the rest of the teams by 28 points, the total of all the other division winners margins combined. In the playoffs, they defeated the New York Islanders 4 games to 1 and then swept the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.
The Philadelphia Flyers proved a much tougher foe, with the series going the full seven games before Tampa prevailed by the closest of margins, 2-1, at home to move onto face the Calgary Flames in the finals, which would also go seven games and again Tampa would prevail by a 2-1 score in the deciding Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup, with Lecavalier getting the assist on the game winning goal.
Lecavalier was then a late addition to Team Canada for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and would go onto be named the tournament MVP after scoring seven points in six games, including the game winning goal in overtime versus the Czech Republic in the semi-finals.
His whirlwind year would not stop there however. Immediately after the World Cup, the NHL owners would lockout the players in a labor dispute and Lecavalier would travel to Russia to play for Ak Bars Kazan in the Russian Superleague along with 11 other NHLers.
Lecavalier would score his 500th career point and capture the Maurice Richard Trophy while achieving a career high 52 goal, 108 point season in 2006-07.
The jersey I am featuring today is a CCM 1998-99 Tampa Bay Lightning Alternate Vincent Lecavlaier jersey as worn by Lecavalier during the first two months of his rookie season. This rare third jersey, which depicts a dramatic storm at sea, with pelting rain and crashing waves, along with jagged lightning bolts running down each arm, has the 1999 NHL All-Star Game patch as worn in Lecavalier's rookie season and also sports the #8 he started his career with before changing to his customary #4 the next season.
The Lightning, for some unknown reason, started off the 98-99 season using their usual home and road jersey paintbrush font, "Reporter", for the numbers on the alternate jersey instead of the more fitting "electric" numbers originally used in the 96-97 and 97-98 seasons with the alternate jersey, only to switch back to the more fitting "electric" numbers at some point after mid-November.
Even after the welcome change in font for the numbers, there is photographic evidence of the captain's C and assistant captain's A's still remaining in the now mismatched paintbrush font. We are uncertain if they ever reverted to the "electric" font for the C's and A's at any point in the 98-99 season, the last for this alternate style.
While many people lump this alternate jersey in with some of the other hideous third jerseys of the mid-90's, we actually like this one very much. Perhaps the lightning bolts on the arms are a bit over done, but we love the body of the jersey with the rain, waves and and the bold, vertically arched font for the name, especially when properly mated with the original electric number font.