With today being Canada Day and Free Agent Day in the NHL, it would only seem appropriate to profile a Canadian player who recently signed a long-term deal in a city that needs a face to front their NHL franchise. I know I said I'd recap the free agent signings today, but there are still a lot of free agents out there, so I'll look at that tomorrow. However, thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning's captain, the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation will remain strong in both Tampa Bay, Florida and Rimouski, Quebec after Mr. Lecavalier and the Lightning came to an agreement over a contract that will see Mr. Lecavalier remain in the Sunshine State for the rest of his playing days. The Vincent Lecavalier Foundation was officially started in December of 2005 when Mr. Lecavalier returned to the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning after the lockout.
Mission Statement: From Mr. Lecavalier's website, "[t]he Vincent Lecavalier Foundation was formed to stimulate the positive development of youth and families in the Tampa Bay, Florida and Rimouski, Quebec communities through charitable outreach projects". Mr. Lecavalier has worked extensively with various charities throughout his hockey career, but his foundation is now focused on helping these two communities that have been such a big part of his life.
How Did The Vincent Lecavalier Foundation Start?: Mr. Lecavalier has been involved in charitable organizations for some time now. He originally was committing dollar amounts for every point he scored, but that changed once he signed his first big contract in 2003. While the lockout was on, Mr. Lecavalier wasn't paid. However, he started his foundation in December of 2005 when the league resumed play.
The Vincent Lecavalier Foundation/VL-4 has started several programs. The biggest program he has committed to thus far is the Vincent Lecavalier Center for Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders at the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. The new wing of the hospital will occupy half of the seventh floor of the hospital, and will feature 28 rooms "capable of caring for pediatric cancer/blood disorder patients as well as those receiving blood or marrow transplants".
The $3 million contribution will allow for rooms to be built that will have accommodations for parents within their child's room. The hospital will have a HEPA filtration positive pressure airflow system to allow patients to move freely on the seventh floor instead of being confined to their rooms. There will be play spaces for both children and adolescents. The staff employed by the hospital are of the highest calibre, meaning that the children admitted to the ward will receive the best care and treatment available.
However, that's not all he does for the All Children's Hospital. Since 2003, in partnership with Kane's Furniture, these two organizations have contributed $1000 for each goal that Mr. Lecavalier scores, and $300 for every assist he tallies. The generous donations have gone a long way to helping the All Children's Hopsital in St. Petersburg.
We're not done there, though. Vincent Lecavalier also started the Suite Stanley program where youths and families can spend the night at a Lightning game in one of the suites. From his website, "[t]he program was initiated as a way for Vinny to gain a greater understanding of charitable needs in the community and to allow individuals and families experiencing difficulty in their lives to have a 'night off' from daily hardships. To date, the Foundation has hosted just under 600 guests representing 23 Bay area charities. Children and families are invited to the games as Vinny’s personal guests. Each guest receives premium suite accommodations, a Vinny’s ICE PACK t-shirt and a post-game meet and greet with Vinny".
Clearly, Vincent Lecavalier is doing a number of things in the greater Tampa Bay area to help children. However, he also returns every summer to Rimouski, Quebec to hold a charity golf tournament. Mr. Lecavalier played for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, and the golf tournament helps to raise funds for the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation.
Thanks to all of Mr. Lecavalier's charitable efforts, he was the 2008 winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution in his community. The winner is chosen by a special panel of representatives from the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and the NHL Broadcasters' Association. Congratulations to Mr. Lecavalier for winning this award!
How Can I Help? As in the case of all the previous charitable organizations, the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation will gladly accept any donations you may want to give. They have an online donation system set up if you'd like to contribute via the Internet. You can also send your donation via snail mail to:
1320 Forestedge Blvd.
Oldsmar, FL 34677
Of course, if you have any questions regarding the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation, I encourage you to write an email. The foundation can be reached at lizwillyoung-at-vinny4-dot-com. You can also call them at (727) 786-2223, or toll-free at (800) 717-0337.
The Vincent Lecavalier Foundation, the NHLPA, and the foundation's namesake, Vincent Lecavalier, are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!