TAMPA — Wing Mike Angelidis doesn't know how long he's going to be with the Lightning. To be honest, it doesn't matter to him.
Don't get Angelidis wrong. He would love to stay in the NHL for the rest of his career. But as Angelidis, 30, prepares for the Canucks tonight at Amalie Arena, he is just happy to be living out his dream.
One thing you're going to get from him, if it's in one game or 50, is hard work. Sunday, Angelidis scored the second NHL goal of his career in a 5-2 win against the Senators. It happened to be the winner, the first time that has happened in his 12 NHL games.
"It's been a tough journey when you've spent most of your career in the minors," Angelidis said. "It's a dream that you always want to play in the NHL. It definitely hasn't been easy. Every day I just try to get a little bit better and try to get a chance.
"You just wait for that opportunity, and you're playing a game you love to play. That gives you incentive to work hard every day."
Angelidis could have given up. He is married and has two children younger than 3. But he still believes in his dream. He also loves the sport.
His dedication is appreciated around the Lightning. Coach Jon Cooper said Angelidis has a special place. In 2010, Angelidis was with AHL Norfolk, then a Lightning affiliate, when Cooper took the coaching job there.
"So we grew up in the organization together," Cooper said. "Any time he gets (called) up, you pull for guys like that because we've been together for so long. He was captain of our (AHL) Calder Cup-winning team (in 2012). I still remember the night he scored his first NHL goal (against the Blue Jackets on Jan. 24, 2012) and how fired up we were. You're proud because you feel like you had a part of him getting in the NHL.
"I know he hasn't been here as long as he'd like to. Still, you can tell by the excitement by the guys on the bench when he scored (Sunday) they were genuinely happy for him because they know what a great teammate he is, what a great leader he is, the dues he's put in to this organization. He keeps grinding it out trying to find his way here. … He's been great for us."
Angelidis doesn't know how long this callup will last, but he intends to enjoy every moment of it.
"Playing in the NHL is a dream come true," he said. "Every kid always wants to get there. It's not easy. It's very difficult, and to finally get here makes all the hard work and sacrifices worth it."