SAN JOSE, Calif. _ Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier was very emotional _ and hurt _ as he talked about being a healthy scratch Tuesday for the first time in his 16-year, 405-goal NHL career.
A prideful and classy man, Lecavalier knows he hasn't been productive lately, but thinks if he gets the playing time, he can still score 20 to 25 goals this season.
A year ago, he had 20 goals in69 games despite being bothered by several injuries, including a bad back.
"I'm not a different player than last year," Lecavalier said before the Flyers' gut-wrenching 2-1 loss in San Jose, which scored the winner with 11.5 seconds left. "I didn't think I had a really good season last year. I had a great start and had a lot of opportunities the first 20 games, and then I got hurt and after that not as much."
In other words, he thinks he can score more than 20 goals.
"I just want to work hard and get back out there. I know what I can do. I believe in what I can do," said Lecavalier, 34, who is goal-less in his last 12 games. "Mentally, it's tough. It was tough this morning, but I've got to move on and get ready for the next time I'm out there."
Before he was benched, Lecavalier said his confidence was waning because of his decreased playing time. He was asked if being a healthy scratch was counter-productive to regaining that confidence.
"Definitely it's not gonna help, but that's why I said I've got to move on mentally and be prepared to watch the game tonight and maybe that's going to let me see things that's going to help me," he said. "When I was injured, I'd watch games. There's nothing you can do about it, but you're up there and kind of watching the game and maybe there are some things that you can improve. I'll do that tonight, but as far as sitting out to help the confidence, of course it doesn't. So that's why in practice you've got to keep the confidence and keep your stick loose in your hands and try to get better that way."
Priot to last season, Lecavalier signed a five-year $22.5 million deal with the Flyers to play in Peter Laviolette's attacking system; he seems to be a square peg in a round hole as he tries to fit into Craig Berube's defense-first style.
"I don't want to be a distraction. That's not my style. Some guys might be like that. I'm not," said Lecavalier, whom the Flyers tried to trade last summer. "It's not a time now to say things that I might regret and that's definitely not going to help the team."
TSN reported that Lecavalier is so frustrated he is considering retiring after next season, thus forefeiting a total of $6 million - and giving the Flyers $4.5 million in salary-cap space each year.
Stay tuned. The next chapter is still being written.