Amid growing speculation throughout the NHL community that the Tampa Bay Lightning may be preparing to trade captain Vinny Lecavalier, the player's agent says he has been assured by Lightning ownership that big No. 4 will be a member of the Lightning for life.
"I've been hearing a lot of the (trade) talk out there, but I was assured by (Lightning owner) Oren Koules within the last hour that it's nothing more than speculation and rumors and there's absolutely nothing to it," agent Kent Hughes said. "Vinny Lecavalier fully expects to be a Tampa Bay Lightning for life and no one from ownership or management in Tampa Bay has given us any reason to believe otherwise."
Lecavalier is in a unique position.
He signed prior to this season an 11-year, $86.5 million contract extension that commences next season, but his no-trade clause in the new contract doesn't take effect until July 1 this summer. So there is, technically, nothing to prevent the Lightning, if they so choose, from trading Lecavalier before the March 4 trade deadline.
Lecavalier trade rumors have heated up considerably in the last couple of weeks. Some speculate the Lightning may have financial reasons for wanting to get out from under the contract. Others speculate the Lightning have decided to go in a different, rebuilding-type direction. Some sources with other NHL clubs maintain Lecavalier could be had from Tampa in a trade under the right circumstances, but Hughes said he would now be surprised if that were true.
''When the Lightning approached Vinny and I to sign a long-term contract in Tampa this past summer, the inducement to forego unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2009, was the verbal assurance we got from Oren Koules and ownership that he wouldn't be traded this season and he would remain in Tampa for the rest of his career. That's why he signed there. He was relying on their explicit assurances. Nothing has changed on Vinny's end. I've heard all the rumors lately so I wanted some clarification from ownership and I got that tonight.''