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Lecavalier's focus is fitness

The Lightning captain intensifies his workout routine and lets his agent work on his contract.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 30, 2001


Vinny Lecavalier said he is much more concerned right now with running, jumping and skating than contract negotiations.

The Lightning's 21-year-old captain went to Boston this month to work with Mike Boyle, personal trainer to many NHL players, and will remain there until the end of August.

By then, he hopes a deal will at least be imminent.

"I want to be in camp," Lecavalier said this week. "I want to play with Tampa Bay. We want to get better, and I want to help the team as much as I can."

Lecavalier will be a restricted free agent when his three-year, $2.925-million deal runs out at midnight. There is no doubt he will be tendered a qualifying offer to ensure Tampa Bay retains his negotiating rights and the right to match offers from other teams.

The Lightning has said it will match any such offers and has no plans to trade Lecavalier.

Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, has had two meetings with assistant general manager Jay Feaster, who negotiates Tampa Bay's contracts. The latest was a two-hour get-together in Sunrise last week leading up to the draft.

Asked about the negotiations, Lecavalier said, "I think I'll let the business side be taken care of by Kent. He knows what he's doing, and I have a lot of confidence in him."

Hughes, who has agreed with the Lightning not to negotiate in the media, said, "Let's just say everything has gone as both sides expected at this point."

It is thought Tampa Bay wants a deal similar to the three-year, $5.35-million package Boston's Joe Thornton signed last year. But Hughes has said he does not want to negotiate Lecavalier's contract with reference to "market value."

As is Tampa Bay's style, any deal likely would include salary-boosting incentives.

Lecavalier clearly wants to boost his worth to the team. Expected to step toward superstardom last season, he struggled to get 23 goals in 68 games and dealt with injuries and questions about his willingness to play defense.

But Lecavalier played well for Canada in the World Championships and said he was rejuvenated.

"I had a good tournament, and my thinking really changed," he said. "I was so focused, and it was great. I realized I want to be in the best shape of my life. I want to be ready as much as possible."

Lecavalier said Boston's Bill Guerin and Don Sweeney, Edmonton's Tom Poti and Ottawa's Shawn McEachern also are at the camp.

Workouts start at 7:30 a.m. and last until 10. They include, weight training, skating and running "I want to start the season," Lecavalier said. "That's why I came here to Boston."

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