In the 2013 offseason, the Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier to a five year, $22.5 million contract. Peter Laviolette was still behind the bench at the time.
Lecavalier made it clear that it was Laviolette, along with former GM Paul Holmgren, that peaked his interest in coming to Philadelphia. When Lavi was shown the door in favor of Craig Berube, the excitement began to wane.
Fast forward to the end of this disappointing season. Lecavalier has struggled mightily in a Flyers uniform, and there appears to be a serious rift between the forward and his head coach.
In 2013-2014, he was actually productive points-wise. He was one of the team’s seven players to reach the 20 goal plateau, while also recording 17 assists in 69 games. In 2014-15, he managed only eight goals and 12 assists in 57 games.
It is clear that the seed of frustration that was planted last season, was in full bloom. It all began when the 34-year-old was demoted to the fourth line. He continued to see his ice-time significantly drop off and was a healthy scratch on multiple occasions, much to his displeasure.
While Lecavalier’s name has been thrown around in a number of trade scenarios, including one that would have had him reunited with Laviolette in Nashville, it is unlikely the Flyers will find someone to take him off their hands. His contract is one any team would want to avoid, especially for an aging player who appears to be rapidly on the decline of his career.
While expectations may have come too high solely based on his name, no one could have foreseen him to play this poorly. His age could be a factor, but yet again there are many players well past their prime still contributing (see Jaromir Jagr, the ageless wonder.)
This is a prime example as to why free agency is always a gamble, especially with big name stars. Some guys just don’t fit well in other team’s systems, and clearly he does not fit into Berube’s. He is unhappy here, and it appears that it will stay that way unless Chief gets the axe.
The entire situation speaks volumes about the culture of the Flyers’ locker room. Berube’s message is no longer getting through, and he has outstayed his welcome. Others such as Steve Mason are not happy with him either. All it takes is one or two players to voice their opinion of their coach and it will spread throughout the team.
Unfortunately, Berube needs to be fired. The organization needs new blood, a fresh face with no former ties to Philadelphia and who is all business. The Flyers seem to like providing their former players with jobs, and so far not many of them have panned out. The only one who appears to show some promise in his role is Ron Hextall.
With this season in the books, the Flyers have many question marks heading into the summer months. Lecavalier has addressed the media about his future with the club, and does not sound certain he will be donning the orange and black in 2015-2016.