Lecavalier excited for ‘special’ return to Tampa Bay

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Wednesday night promises to be an emotional one at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The game will mark the first time Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier will play in Tampa Bay since being bought out of his contract this past summer, marking a return to the place he called home for 14 years.

“It’s definitely going to be special,” Lecavalier told CSN Philadelphia. ““I am excited to go back. It’s not something I have really thought of. I’m just happy to go back and play against them and hope to play a great game there.

“I’m excited to go back and see my old teammates and buddies and play hard against them.”

Bought out of his 11-year, $85 million deal in July, Lecavalier — the Lightning’s all-time leader in games played (1,037), goals (383), power play goals (112) and game-winning goals (60) — quickly signed with Philadelphia, saying he wanted to play in a passionate hockey market and preferred playing the Flyers’ style as opposed to “staying on your heels.”

Those quips aside, Tampa’s response to Lecavalier should be overwhelmingly positive.

Lecavalier was a beloved figure in the area and was known for his community involvement — in 2007, he pledged $3 million to a pediatric cancer center (that bears his name) at the All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. He was also an instrumental figure on the club’s first and only Stanley Cup-winning team and served two stints as captain, for a grand total of six seasons with the “C” on his sweater.

In short, Lecavalier says Wednesday will be like going home.

“Even though I am from Montreal and loved going back there, Tampa has always been my home, yeah,” he said. “My kids were all born there. My sister’s family is there, my parents are there. It definitely feels like home. Montreal as well.

“They’re both my homes.”