Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk up for Hall of Fame again

TAMPA

Dave Andreychuk scored 640 NHL goals. There's a bronze statue of him in front of Amalie Arena, holding the Stanley Cup. He played 1,597 regular-season games before he finally lifted that trophy.

So he's used to waiting.

Andreychuk plans to be at his family's beach rental on Siesta Key today when the Hockey Hall of Fame announces its newest class. Maybe he'll get the phone call. Maybe. Andreychuk, 52, who last played for the Lightning 10 years ago, has been Hall eligible since 2009.

"I keep saying it gets easier, but I don't know if it does," Andreychuk said. "Everybody kind of walks on pins and needles around me. Even my dad doesn't know what to say anymore. My wife is like, 'When is that day again?' She's like trying to tiptoe around it."

Andreychuk should be in the Hall. He played 23 seasons, 1,639 games, sixth most in NHL history. He scored a record 274 power-play goals. Only 13 men have scored more than his 640. Eleven are in the Hall. As for the other two, Teemu Selanne is not yet eligible for Hall election and Jaromir Jagr plays on.

And then there's the finest, proudest work of Andreychuk's career: captain of a Lightning team that shocked the hockey world and won the Cup in 2004. He nurtured youngsters and helped forge a champion. Hall electors might dismiss that. Well, they weren't here.

Andreychuk, Lightning vice president of corporate and community affairs, understands those who make a case against him, who say he was a very good player, but not great.

"I get the other side," he said. "No Olympic experience. Just two All-Star Games in 23 years, no NHL awards. But in some way that's what I'm most proud of. I quietly went about my business. I was consistent. I think the guys who played with my know that. But I get it, totally."

Okay, not totally.

"Someone wrote an article a few years ago that the actual longevity hurts you more than it helps you. You know, 'he's a goal scorer, he's played that many games, he should have that many goals.' That bothers me more than anything, because I'm more proud of games played than anything else. That's hard to do."

It's announcement day. Maybe the phone rings for Dave Andreychuk. If it does, so many faces will flash in his mind. His parents, Rosalind and Julian. His wife, Susan, and their daughters, Taylor, Caci and Brooke. All his teammates on all those teams.

"It would be awesome," Andreychuk said. "I don't think you can put it into words. It's hard, because it's not about team. It's about me as an individual. That's not in my blood. You don't get there by yourself. I didn't score goals by myself. I didn't come home after road trips and I'm by myself. It would be as much a celebration of them as me."

He scored his first goal in his first NHL game, in 1982, for the Buffalo Sabres.

"It was a little rebound in front," Andreychuk said with a laugh. "A guy cross-checked me in the back and I, as I fell, I knocked it in. I got probably another 400 of those."

He doesn't remember his final NHL goal. It was for the Lightning on the day after Christmas in 2005.

But he remembers driving back to his Tampa home the night the Lightning won it all, looking in the rear view and seeing his dad and his father-in-law in the back seat with the Cup between them. And he remembers crying.

Will this be one of those days?

"I'm wondering how my wife will be," Andreychuk said. "She's usually pretty antsy."

And if the phone doesn't ring …

"I wouldn't say it would be a disappointment. It gets harder every year, but I'm still in the conversation. The conversation is really cool. I'll probably be out on boat or sitting on a beach. I'm not going to plan my day around the call, that's for damn sure."

Hope his day gets totally interrupted.

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