TORONTO — In a speech heavy on thanking his family, Dave Andreychuk didn’t forget his Stanley Cup victory with the Lightning when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night.
"What happened in Tampa Bay was just magical," he said. "I get there with some young horses that were just phenomenal. I realized right away this team was going to be good.’’
Andreychuk reassured his father, Julian, that it was okay as Julian cried as he sat in the audience, and said he had a ritual during his 23-year career of talking to him almost every night.
Andreychuk had sensed his numbers would be good enough to get him into the Hall. He just had to stay patient. Andreychuk retired in 2006, not long after a highlight of winning the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.
His 640 goals make him the 14th-highest scoring player. Of the 17 retired players to hit the 600-goal mark, he was the only one not in the Hall other than co-inductee Teemu Selanne despite being eligible for induction since 2009. Selanne became eligible this year.
"I think 600 goals on the resume, it’s got to happen eventually," Andreychuk said. "To be honest when I look at the time it took to get in, it just makes it sweeter. You just hope your time will come."
Andreychuk joined the Hall with NHL greats Mark Recchi, Selanne and Paul Kariya and Canadian women’s star Danielle Goyette. Longtime Canadian university coach Clare Drake and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs entered in the builder category.
He joked Monday that Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella’s take on him was that he was "slow as molasses but for some reason he gets it done."
The 54-year-old Andreychuk — who was drafted in 1982 by Buffalo and made stops in Toronto, New Jersey, Boston, Colorado and Tampa Bay — was driving on a Florida freeway to pick up his wife from the airport when he got the call.
"My heart started to race right away. I immediately hung up and called my father," said Andreychuk, noting he pulled off the road to take the call. "My mother did most the talking, saying, ‘It was about time,’ but my father was crying at the same time."
The long wait never rattled the man described by peers as a natural leader.
"It’s like winning the Stanley Cup," he said. "You’ve been dreaming about it all your life but you don’t know how you’re going to react until it happens."
Andreychuk is still the career leader for power-play goals with 274. Most came from in front of the net, aided by his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame.
"It started in junior, 16, 17 years old," he said. "You realize that’s where my bread and butter was going to be. Not a lot of pretty goals, to be honest. Not sure if there’s a highlight-reel goal."
Andreychuk played 1,639 games in the NHL and had 19 seasons with at least 20 goals. In 2001, at 37, he signed with Tampa Bay and spent four years with the Lightning, the final three as captain, and won his only Cup.