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Tampa Re-Signs Star

All-Star center Vincent Lecavalier signed an 11-year, $85-million contract extension that he hopes will keep him in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform for the remainder of his career.

``Not only is Vincent one of the most dynamic players in the NHL, he's one of the classiest people you'll ever meet off the ice, as well,'' Lightning vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said Sunday in a team statement.
``With this deal, our ownership has made it clear that he is the cornerstone of the Lightning, and Vincent has shown his dedication to the franchise and the Tampa Bay area by signing for less than he undoubtedly would've received on the open market.''
New owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie will join Lecavalier at a news conference Tuesday that will be followed by an autograph signing for season ticket holders and a town hall meeting featuring the owners, Lecavalier and new coach Barry Melrose.
The 28-year-old forward, who helped Tampa Bay win its only Stanley Cup championship four years ago, had one season left on a four-year, $27.4 million contract. The new deal begins after next season.
``I'm proud and honored to be committing myself ... for the rest of my NHL career,'' Lecavalier said. ``It's no secret how I feel about the organization, the fans and the Tampa Bay community, and there's no place else I'd rather be.
``Combine that with the enthusiasm and commitment to winning that has been shown by owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, and signing this long-term deal was an easy decision.''
Lecavalier scored an NHL-leading 52 goals during the 2006-07 season, then added 40 goals last season while hiking his franchise-best career totals to 273 goals and 602 points. The three-time All-Star was the first pick in the 1998 draft, and the new deal extends through the 2019-20 season, when he turns 40.

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