On Sunday, the Philadelphia Flyers’ Vincent Lecavalier hit the 400 goal mark in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins. The 6’4″ center became the 90th player in NHL history to hit the 400 goal plateau after beating Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask glove side in the first period. Lecavalier later scored a second goal with 25 seconds remaining in the third period that sent the game into overtime, unfortunately the Flyers could not capitalize afterward.
Once loosely tabbed as the next Mario Lemieux due to comparative size and French-Canadian origin, the projections for Lecavalier were immense. Expected to turn a franchise around at the age of 18 is no small feat for anyone, not even the great 66. But the center from Quebec did not back down and took his lumps along the way. He was given captaincy in 2000, making him the youngest Captain in NHL history at the time, but he was stripped of it before the start of the following season when he did not live up to the high standards the organization held. However, without the spotlight of the C on his jersey Lecavalier began to thrive, and for the next five seasons he would become an all-star level player.
After helping lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004, and winning the 2006-07 Maurice Richard trophy as the league’s top scorer, Lecavalier’s production began to decrease and people began to wonder if his short-lived time as an all-star was coming to an end. As a result, Tampa Bay announced in June 2013 that their former star center’s contract had been bought out, sending their longest tenured player to free agency. On July 2, 2013 the former first overall selection in the 1998 NHL draft, was signed to a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Upon joining Philadelphia, Lecavalier switched to number 40 due to his patented number 4 being retired by the organization in honor of the late Barry Ashbee.
Now 33 years of age, Lecavalier can reflect on what he has done so far in his career. He was asked what he thought of the goal scoring milestone. “It’s a great honor,” he said. Then went on to explain how he never thought he would get there when he first entered the league at the age of 18. Maybe his career has not gone exactly to plan, but flyers’ Vincent Lecavalier hitting the 400 goal mark is nothing to just simply dismiss.
Becoming just the 90th player in NHL history to do so is quite impressive. He also joins a list of seven other active players with more than 400 goals, among the list are longtime NHL stars Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne, Daniel Alfredsson and Jarome Iginla, as well as Marian Hossa, Patrick Marleau and Alexander Ovechkin. That is pretty good company in the hockey world.
As Philly chases after the post-season and a run at Lord Stanley, they may need the French-Canadian to put a few more pucks in the net. And even though they lost to the Bruins on Sunday, for the Flyers’ Vincent Lecavalier it marks a piece of history as he hits the 400 goal mark.
Commentary by Kalen Skalesky