Vincent Lecavalier’s Hall of Fame-caliber career ended with the Kings’ loss Friday to the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. He said he planned to retire at season’s end, no matter the outcome, after the Kings acquired him Jan. 6 from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lecavalier didn’t wish to talk immediately after Game 5, but he met with reporters Sunday at the Kings’ training facility in El Segundo. He said he plans to stick around for a while before moving back to Tampa, Fla., but he insisted his playing days have come to an end after 421 goals, 528 assists and 1,212 games in the NHL.
“It’s tough to process anything right now,” said Lecavalier, who spent most of his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning a Stanley Cup championship with them in 2003-04. “It’s only been a couple of days here. Honestly, to be able to get a chance to play …”
Lecavalier was not in the Flyers’ plans this season, playing only seven games before he and and Luke Schenn were sent to the Kings for Jordan Weal and a third-round draft pick. Lecavalier played an important role as the Kings’ third-line center and had 10 goals and 17 assists in 42 games.
“I think back in November and talking to Luke and saying, ‘I think I’m going to be stuck here (Philadelphia) and I’m not playing,’ and then getting a chance to play on this team and, obviously, we didn’t go where we wanted to go at the end of it, but to get a chance to play and to have fun and to learn, it’s just a great time,” Lecavalier said. “I always had that confidence that I could still do well. It was great. This is a great team. I know they’re going to win again.”
The Los Angeles chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has nominated Kings center Vincent Lecavalier for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the “player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
From our chapter’s news release:
Lecavalier, in the twilight of an outstanding career, had become a mere afterthought while with the Philadelphia Flyers. More often than not he was a healthy scratch, playing in only seven games to start this season and recording one assist. it seemed a sad way for a gallant player to go out.
Lecavalier, 35, is rewriting that ending in Los Angeles. Given a chance and regular ice time after being traded to the Kings in January, Lecavalier has become a valued locker-room leader for a team that figures to contend for the Stanley Cup. He has helped with his faceoff skills and his experience, setting a good example for younger players to follow. The classy center has eight goals, 15 points and a plus-4 defensive rating in his first 35 games with the Kings, but his contributions go beyond that. For his career, he has 419 goals and 947 points in 1,205 games.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter is a fan of Lecavalier and what he has done since the trade. “Two months ago, three months ago, they said he was done,” Sutter said a few days ago. “They just didn’t finish the sentence. He’s done well.”
King coach Darryl Sutter. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said about center Vincent Lecavalier, who has eight goals and 15 points in 35 games since he was acquired Jan. 6 from the Philadelphia Flyers: “Two months ago, three months ago, they said he was done. They just didn’t finish the sentence. He’s done well.”
Lecavalier had one point, an assist, in seven games with Philadelphia.
Key play: Defenseman John Moore scored 4:44 into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory Saturday over the Kings at Staples Center. Moore picked up the puck at the red line, skated down the left wing and then circled the net and fired a shot from a sharp angle past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Pivotal performer: Kings center Anze Kopitar scored the tying goal in the closing minutes of the second period, capping a prolonged stay in the Devils’ end of the ice. Kopitar swatted home a loose puck for his 21 st goal of the season, with assists from left wing Milan Lucic and defenseman Alec Martinez.
Between the pipes: Quick made his 55th appearance in goal in the Kings’ 67th game of 2015-16. Quick and backup Jhonas Enroth could split the workload when the Kings play Monday at Chicago and Tuesday at St. Louis. Quick made 22 saves.
Injury update: Kings center Vincent Lecavalier played only 3:12 during the first period. He spent the bulk of the period in the dressing room after taking a tumble over a fallen teammate. He played 5:01 in the second, his more usual ice time.
Milestone delayed: Kings coach Darryl Sutter remained deadlocked with Bob Pulford with 178 victories as their coach, second-most in franchise history. Sutter is 178-106-44 with the Kings. He can break the tie with Pulford with a Kings victory Monday over the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Key play: Milan Lucic drifted into the slot, accepted a centering pass from Anze Kopitar and scored the tiebreaking goal 6:17 into the third period and the Kings went on to a 3-2 victory Tuesday over the Dallas Stars at Staples Center. Jake Muzzin had the second assist on Lucic’s 12th goal of the season.
Pivotal performer: Kings center Vincent Lecavalier scored his third power-play goal in as many games. Lecavalier has three goals in six games since the Kings acquired him and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Jordan Weal and a third-round draft pick.
Quote, unquote: “The standings show we’re playing better than them, but there’s so much that can happen,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said of the team’s lead over the rest of the Pacific Division, which grew to 12 points. “There are almost 40 points left. … You can never be comfortable. All those other guys, all those teams are going to want to catch us and they’ll do whatever it takes.”
Line shifts: Kings coach Darryl Sutter shifted center Jeff Carter to right wing for Tuesday’s game against the Stars. It fueled speculation was suffering from an unspecified upper-body injury and would enable him to avoid taking faceoffs, which could cause him pain.
Breakaway move: Stars defenseman John Klingberg skated ahead of the pack on a second-period breakaway, but was denied on a vintage Peter Forsberg-like move by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick at the moment of truth. Klingberg faked Quick to the ice, but couldn’t slip the puck by him.
Slowly but certainly, defenseman Luke Schenn is starting to feel at home in Southern California. He swapped the East Coast for the West when the Kings acquired him and center Vincent Lecavalier from the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 6, trading a cold winter for a warm one.
Schenn has since grown accustomed to seeing the Pacific Ocean now and then. He’s used to wearing T-shirts and shorts and flip flops to the Kings’ El Segundo practice facility. He’s learned to navigate the freeways, with Lecavalier acting as his carpool partner for trips to Staples Center.
Now if he could just find a good cheesesteak in Los Angeles, then he’ll be all set.
And if he has the time and the inclination, he’s up for a maiden voyage to In-N-Out Burger.
Most of all, Schenn is happy to be playing for the Pacific Division-leading Kings.
“It’s been a bit of an adjustment,” Schenn said Monday, one day before the Kings faced the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, his sixth game since the trade. “I’m just getting familiar with the guys on the team, the trainers, the coaches. I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s a great bunch of guys.
“The whole organization is unbelievable. The whole set up is second to none.”
Key play: Bobby Ryan set up Mika Zibanejad for the go-ahead power-play goal and the Ottawa Senators rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to defeat the Kings 4-3 on Saturday at Staples Center. The Kings held leads of 2-0 in the second period and 3-1 in the third.
Pivotal performer: Kings forward Nick Shore drew a double-minor for high-sticking the Senators’ Shane Price in the face at 10:34 of the third period. The Kings killed off the first minor, but not the second as Zibanejad scored the go-ahead goal at 13:10.
Quote, unquote: “It’s something you can’t do against any team because when you make mistakes like that any team is going to make you pay,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “Very uncharacteristic of us. Two-goal lead, we blew that in a matter of minutes. That power-play goal they scored, that put them over the edge. We definitely can’t be as sloppy as we were tonight.
Milestone moment: Center Vincent Lecavalier scored his first goal since the Kings acquired him and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 6. Lecavalier’s last goal was last April 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins while with the Flyers.
Penalty shot: Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli failed to convert after he drew a penalty shot against Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson on a partial breakaway try at 14:32 of the second period. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson sprawled to make the save, preserving a 2-1 score.
Key play: Defenseman Jake Muzzin whistled a shot through traffic and past Toronto goaltender James Reimer less than three minutes into the third period and the Kings went on to take a 2-1 victory from the Maple Leafs on Thursday at Staples Center.
Pivotal performer: Center Vincent Lecavalier made his Kings debut a memorable one with an assist on Muzzin’s goal. Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn were acquired Wednesday from the Philadelphia Flyers and arrived Thursday morning in Los Angeles. Lecavalier played 9:26 in his first game with the Kings.
Quote, unquote: “It feels great,” Lecavalier said after his debut. “Honestly, it was just a good team effort tonight. The way they play, it’s just impressive. So, it was nice to be a part of today. Everybody worked really hard and it paid off. … Great bunch of guys. You can tell already. … Everything was on adrenaline tonight.”
Quote, unquote (part 2): “I just tried to soak a little bit in before the game and just tried to shake hands and get to know a few of the teammates,” Schenn said. “I’m not too familiar with a lot of the guys. It was kind of nice and you don’t over-think things. You just go out there and play.”
Welcome back: Kings center Jeff Carter returned to the lineup after sitting out for five games because of an upper-body injury and scored a third-period goal that made it 2-0. Carter was hurt on the opening faceoff of the Kings’ 4-3 overtime victory Dec. 26 over the Arizona Coyotes.
Game misconduct: Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak drew a five-minute boarding major and was ejected from the game after driving Kings winger Tyler Toffoli head-first into the boards at 19:26 of the first period. Toffoli was shaken up on the play, but returned to the game.
Here’s what Kings center Vincent Lecavalier said when asked Thursday about the importance of finishing his career on a high note, after Wednesday’s trade from the Philadelphia Flyers: “It’s really important. Like I said, I’m excited. All I want to do is help out this team as much as I can. I still have confidence in my game and what I can bring. The most important thing is winning in this organization. It’s not a guy or two guys. It’s everybody. That’s what’s exciting about it. It’s just a great team. Everybody that has talked to me in the last 24 hours, they’re all excited about me coming here and helping out. I just can’t wait to get going.”
Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn, the newest Kings, met with reporters for the first time Thursday since Wednesday’s trade from the Philadelphia Flyers. Lecavalier spoke about the end of his time with the Flyers and how it wasn’t enjoyable at all.
“No, it wasn’t,” he said. “I think the first 30 games, 20 games, I really enjoyed myself. I thought I was playing some good hockey and then I got some injuries. The decision for me to go there was mainly for (former Flyers coach) Peter Laviolette, and he left after three games. He got let go and the mentality kind of changed and I wasn’t really part of their plans after that.
“Very frustrating, but I’m happy I’m here now.”