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Listen: Vinny Lecavalier's Press Conference

The Tampa Bay Lightning

The National Hockey League 2013-2014 season will be different in several ways this year in Tampa.

There's re-alignment -- which takes the NHL's six-division format -- and makes it four divisions.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be in the Eastern Conference Division C -- along with Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

Another change for the Lightning will be the absence of Vinny Lecavalier.

He learned Thursday morning while he was having breakfast with his family that his contract was being bought out by the team.

“You know when you get the phone call and you’re told that you can’t play for the Lightning,” Lecavalier said during his telephone media conference just hours after the news. “It was pretty rough on everybody. I mean my family, obviously myself. I’ve been there 14 years. So, it was definitely – it still is really hard.”

The Lightning organization said the buyout was necessary to keep the team under the new salary cap of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or CBA.

Now, center Lecavalier will become an unrestricted free agent on July 5th after the contract buyout of more than $32 million.

Lecavalier was the first overall pick in the 1998 NHL draft and was key to the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

During his almost half-hour telephone news conference, Lecavalier said he was not angry about the situation. But he is sad he cannot finish his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Yet, Lecavalier said that he’s ready to embrace the challenge of playing with a new team.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
Carson Cooper has become a favorite of WUSF listeners as the host of "Morning Edition" on WUSF 89.7 since he took the job in 2000. Carson has worked in Tampa Bay radio for three decades.
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