Despite being 4,000km away in sunny California, it didn't take long for the endless trade talk to reach Vincent Lecavalier.
The All-Star centre knows all too well about the intense trade rumours over the last few days involving the Montreal Canadiens, but the Ile Bizard, Quebec native said Monday that all the talk was just that - rumours.
"It has been a week since I have been in California," he explained to Montreal's La Presse late Monday night. "I haven't really followed the rumours. But I have received a lot of calls because of them."
Reports have surfaced over the last week that the Lightning are looking at potential trade suitors for Lecavalier, whose 11-year, $85 million contact extension kicks in at the end of the season. The Canadiens are the most talked about trading partner, with an offer that could include forwards Christopher Higgins and Tomas Plekanec, defenceman Josh Gorges and a package of draft picks.
Lecavalier, who comes from a family of die-hard Hab fans and grew up watching the team, wasn't shy to admit his love for home but also stressed that he was happy in Tampa.
"I love the city of Montreal, I have never hidden that," he told La Presse.
"I am from there. My family is from there. My friends as well. I grew up with the Canadiens. I understand there are a lot of rumours presently. But they are rumours. I have heard them throughout my career. I like playing in Tampa, I am a loyal person."
Lecavalier also indicated that the decision on a trade "are out of my control," and if he had made a short list of the cities where he would like to play, Montreal would be in a good position.
"For sure," he told La Presse.
Meanwhile, Lightning general manager Brian Lawton drew a few raised eyebrows, telling the St. Petersburg Times on Monday night that, "There are no players who are untouchable."
"And that has nothing to do with Vinny Lecavalier," he explained. "That has to do with the status of any team I'm managing. It has to do with our macro goal of being committed to winning, being committed to giving our fans a winner. No player supersedes the goals of any team I'm working on."
Lawton also emphasized - for the second time in a week - that Lecavalier was not being shopped.
"To suggest we're engaging in conversations to trade him or we're shopping him to all teams in the National Hockey League is completely inaccurate," he told the Times. "It's false, egregious and it's abusive toward the player. I can tell you if a player of that stature were ever going to be traded, I would go meet with him, face to face, and discuss the situation. That has never happened."