TAMPA — Dave Andreychuk has never watched the Lightning’s entire 2004 Stanley Cup run. The captain of that team has seen the Game 7 finale against the Flames a few times, but that’s it.
Fox Sports Sun is currently replaying all Tampa Bay’s victories from its Cup-winning season. There’s not a lot to do right now and no live sports to watch, Andreychuk said Wednesday, so he has been reliving it all.
“I’m surprised how good defensively we were, especially in the first two series,” said the retired wing, 56, wearing a vintage Bolts T-shirt during a Zoom videoconference call. “It’s been fun to watch and reconnecting with all of our guys in the last couple of weeks.”
Andreychuk and retired center Brad Richards, 40, spoke to the media as part of the leadup to Saturday’s airing on Fox Sports Sun of Game 7 of the 2004 Cup final. The onetime teammates spoke about that season’s playoff run and the current state of hockey with the NHL season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coffee and superstition
Richards’ Game 7 pregame routine can be summed up in three words: coffee and superstition.
“Marty (St. Louis) is crazier than me, but I was pretty crazy, too, with some superstitions,” Richards said.
Before Game 2 against Calgary, St. Louis, Richards and Jake Goertzen, a scout, went to Starbucks on S Howard Avenue. The Lightning won that game 4-1, so of course, a few days later, going into Game 7 at the then-Times Forum, St. Louis and Richards looked at each other and knew they had to go back.
Andreychuk suggested that St. Louis probably didn’t give Richards or Goertzen much of an option, knowing how “crazy” St. Louis was.
The trio sat outside Starbucks talking for an hour — not about the upcoming game — and no one recognized them, something Richards said he would never have gotten away with during his later playing days in New York and Chicago.
Richards said he remembers going back to a Marriott for his pregame nap and not being able to sleep, so he went down to the team meeting room and found half the club there sitting with … more coffee.
Richards described the superstition as helping him kill time and take some focus away from how badly he wanted to get to game time. His routines got “out of control” at home in the leadup to the game, he said, more than in the dressing room, such as where his toothbrush was or who was driving to the rink.
“You have to relax,” he said, “and the hardest thing to do is sit back and enjoy an evening when you know you have the biggest game of your life the next day.”
In the moment, Andreychuk said, he didn’t think about how well the Lightning were playing defensively against the Flames, beyond that goalie Nikolai Khabibulin played great.
“That’s one thing that has changed my perspective in watching multiple games,” he said.
For Richards, it was about blocked shots and how the Lightning got into opponents’ heads.
“We weren’t the first team to block shots,” he said, “but we were the first team to take on an aura, where the announcers and other teams were more concerned with us blocking shots than they were anything else.”
Watching the games again has shown Richards just how much the entire team was committed to blocking shots and how it spurred the offense.
Playoffs without fans?
Richards said he realizes it’s easy to comment sitting in his new Florida home as a former player versus how he would feel still playing, but he can’t imagine having playoffs without fans, a possibility this year because of the coronavirus.
“I would find it very hard to celebrate a championship with no fans, no party, no parade, all that,” he said. “That being said, there are people in this league that this is their last chance (to win a championship). Some of them might be on a great team that has a chance to win. You have to be fair to them, too. They might be saying, ‘I don’t care (if fans aren’t there). This is my chance to win.’ ”
Check it out
The Lightning are hosting a Zoom conference for fans before Fox Sports Sun broadcasts Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final Saturday night. More than 15 players, coaches and members of management are scheduled to participate in the call, starting at 7. The game broadcast begins at 7:30.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @dianacnearhos.