Vincent Lecavalier absolutely hated playing for Craig Berube, and on locker cleanout day in April, he said publicly that he didn't want to come back to the Philadelphia Flyers if Berube remained the coach.
Berube was promptly fired, but that doesn't mean things are better between the team and the once-great NHL forward. It's pretty clear that Flyers general manager Ron Hextall still wants to trade Lecavalier (if he can) and it's probably true that Lecavalier still wants out too.
Hextall on Lecavalier: "Hasn't worked for Vinny, hasn't worked for us. At this point ... a new coach probably hasn't changed anything."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 20, 2015
Then there's this from Bill Meltzer at Hockeybuzz this morning:
Hakstol is going to try to install a highly structured system that emphasizes skating, back-pressure and 200-foot play with the forwards carrying significant defensive responsibilities and the defensemen supporting the play offensively. I do not foresee Lecavalier being the right fit to get the type of ice time he needs to be effectively.
This makes me laugh a bit, because it's basically saying "Vinny can't skate so he's not going to be good playing under Hakstol." There's obviously more to it and maybe Vinny can be a bit better of a role player with a different team and a different coach, but no matter where he goes, it's clear that the game has passed him by.
The reality is this: Lecavalier is not a good hockey player anymore, but he thinks he's still a good hockey player. Despite how much stuff Craig Berube was wrong about, he wasn't wrong about Vincent Lecavalier. The dude is bad at the NHL game in 2015. So that brings us to this next point from Meltzer:
I especially do not think the longtime star player will buy into notion of going the extra mile for a coach who never played in the NHL and has no prior pro-level coaching experience telling him he needs to buy into a different way of playing than what worked for Lecavalier in the past and did not work for him under Berube.
OK, if this is true .... Vinny is just a baby. Good riddance, dude.
This is the actual next point though:
Lecavalier is due a $2 million installment on his signing bonus this summer. That installment likely must be paid to him on July 1, 2015. After that date, there really is very little reason for him not to essentially walk away from the Flyers by coming to a mutual contract termination agreement in which he'd forfeit the rest of his contract (including a $500,000 signing bonus installment due on July 1, 2016) but be an unrestricted free agent with the rest of the summer to find a new team.
The Flyers would still have to pay that $2 million bonus against next year's salary cap, but that's not really the end of the world. Look at it like a $2 million buy out for one easy year and wash your hands of the guy. It's not a bad solution at all, and it's certainly better than staying on the hook for the rest of the contract because Hextall can't move Vinny in a trade ... but of course it requires both sides to agree to it.
Maybe Lecavalier would, as Bill mentions, because it gives him the opportunity to go to a team where he'd be a better fit. Same assumption that the Flyers would happily do it. No matter what, though, it really looks like Lecavalier will be gone before the start of next season ... or at least we can hope.