More Sports:

December 09, 2015

What's going on with Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier?

Flyers NHL
120815_Vinny-Lecavalier_AP Matt Slocum/AP

After 17 seasons, Vinny Lecavalier has decided to hang up his skates.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to read the following sentence: Philadelphia Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier is nowhere near the kind of player he once was. 

It's why the Tampa Bay Lightning bought out his contract for a whopping $32.67 million in 2013. It's why he didn't play much last season under head coach Craig Berube, despite the fact that he carried a $4.5 million cap hit. It's most likely why the Flyers were unable to move him in the offseason and why he continues to be a healthy scratch under new coach Dave Hakstol -- Lecavalier hasn't played since Nov. 12 and Tuesday's game was the 13th-straight he's been out of the lineup.

Through the first twenty-seven games the season, he's played in just seven and has recorded seven shots and an assist. Over his first two seasons in Philly, Lecavalier's played in 126 games and notched 57 points (28 G, 29 A).

Sure, he's not worth the $4.5 million he's costing the Flyers in cap space -- not to mention the $2.3 million he receives from the Lightning per the terms of his buyout -- but is the 35-year-old such a shell of his former self that he doesn't belong on the ice?

Apparently so. At least that's the message the Flyers are sending loud and clear.

General manager Ron Hextall, who said he'll provide a more thorough update on Wednesday, said the reason Lecavalier missed the morning skate ahead of the Flyers' matchup with the New York Islanders was due to "a recovery day," according to Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post. The former first-overall pick was in the building, however, working out and receiving treatment on his back.

Here's more from Isaac:

“I don’t know what to say, man. It is what it is,” a frustrated Lecavalier said as he left the building following his workout. “Obviously I’m not getting in the lineup, and I don’t know what to say anymore. I’m not going to come to the rink pissed off. I’m still going to try to come and get better. I don’t know. Wherever I get my opportunity I just want to be in shape if that happens.”

It’s no secret that the $22.5-million, five-year pact between Lecavalier and the Flyers isn’t working. If it were as simple as filing divorce papers, both sides would be happier.

“It’s a tough situation. It really is,” Hextall said. “I feel bad for Vinny. Sometimes that’s life. Things don’t go the way you want. He’s been a pro.”  []

The options -- for both sides -- are limited. With most other teams unable to see what Lecavalier has left while he continues to be sidelined, the cap hit they would have to absorb remains prohibitive.

And if there's no way to move him, the best option for the Flyers would be if Lecavalier took it upon himself to retire early. They would still owe him the guaranteed money from the 5-year, $22.3 million deal he signed prior to the 2013 season, but it would free up quite a bit of cap space for Holmgren and the Flyers.

Unfortunately for the front office, Lecavalier said Tuesday that he hasn't even thought about calling it a career.

“Honestly I haven’t thought about it,” Lecavalier said, according to Isaac. “It’s something very…I don’t want to say personal, but within yourself. It’s not anybody that makes that decision up for you. It’s a personal thing. What I’m saying is that for me, I haven’t thought about it. In my mind I’m here and practicing and trying to get better.”

But as the season progresses, and the former All-Star continues to watch the games rather than play in them, his thoughts on the matter may change.

You can check out Dave's full story, which includes more from Lecavalier, Hextall and Hakstol, here. I highly recommend it.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin