In the midst of last year’s lockout, Vinny Lecavalier was following the tweets, stories and TV reports like any other hockey fan waiting for the sport to return, like any other player hoping to have a job again.

Unlike most others, the former No. 1 overall pick was anxious about one specific thing, wondering if he’d have to play paranoid when hockey returned.

When one detail emerged from the negotiations — that there would be a buyout clause — Lecavalier couldn’t help but wonder if he was a lame duck for the only NHL team he had ever known.

“The way my contract was structured,” Lecavalier said, “I knew right away it was a possibility.”

Once a franchise player for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lecavalier played the last 29 games of his career there with an uneasy feeling that his 11-year, $85 million contract might be cut short.

“If you come back two years ago, it wasn’t any question,” Lecavalier said. “I’m gonna be in Tampa for the rest of my career. I love it in Tampa and I was proud to be a Lightning.”

After 1,037 games in Tampa, the 33-year-old center got a call from Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman after the team missed the 2013 playoffs. His fear became reality: the Lightning was buying out its captain. Lecavalier was bummed ... until finding a new home in a hockey-crazed city, Philadelphia.

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