The Lightning’s second Hall of Fame class will honor two more integral members of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship squad.
Dave Andreychuk, a Hockey Hall of Famer who captained the Lightning’s 2004 Cup-winning team, and Brad Richards, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after Tampa Bay defeated Calgary in seven games to claim the franchise’s first championship, will be the organization’s two inductees this season.
They will join Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, who along with founder Phil Esposito made up the Lightning’s first Hall of Fame class. St. Louis and Lecavalier, also members of the 2004 team, automatically earned induction after previously having their numbers retired.
“You look back on that group, and how special that group was,” Andreychuk said. “It’s not just me. ... It’s collectively all of us that had success. And for me to be recognized for that success, but at the same time thinking, I was only here 4 1/2 years. I was not here a long time, and to be recognized by the Lightning and be put in their Hall of Fame, it’s quite an honor.”
Andreychuk and Richards will be honored March 8-9 as part of the team’s alumni weekend. Final details are still being worked out, but plans are for an induction ceremony March 8 and a ceremony March 9 before the Lightning host Philadelphia. The Flyers are coached by John Tortorella, the Lightning’s head coach in 2004.
Andreychuk, who is still very active in the organization as the team’s vice president of corporate and community affairs and a color TV commentator, was the veteran voice a growing Lightning team needed to get over the hump to become champions.
Despite playing only his final four seasons with Tampa Bay, Andreychuk is tied for eighth on the franchise’s all-time list with 38 power-play goals, including 15 in the 2002-03 season. A Hockey Hall of Famer, he became a special figure in the Tampa Bay hockey community and remained in the area after retirement. A statue of Andreychuk hoisting the Stanley Cup welcomes fans to Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena.
In 2001, Andreychuk was recruited by the Lightning to help steward the team’s young, talented core, a group headlined by St. Louis, Lecavalier and Richards. The next season, Tortorella anointed him captain and the Lightning won the division and their first playoff series before losing to the eventual Cup champion Devils. In his third year with Tampa Bay, the Lightning won their first Cup.
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“If you ask Brad and Vinny and Marty, those guys watched everything he did,” said Jay Feaster, GM of the Lightning’s 2004 Cup team and member of the Hall of Fame selection committee. “They watched how he put his skates on, they watched how he taped his stick. They absorbed all the things that he did. And it was through the way he conducted himself as a pro that he helped change the culture and helped guys understand, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be.’ ”
Richards, a home-grown Lightning player who played his first seven seasons in Tampa Bay, won the Conn Smythe as the most valuable player of the 2004 postseason after leading the league in playoff scoring (26 points), including five goals and five assists in the final and a team playoff-record seven game-winning goals.
Richards also won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2004 as the league’s most gentlemanly player. He is on the Lightning’s all-time top-10 list in scoring (sixth, 489 points), goals (eighth, 150), assists (sixth, 339), power-play goals (sixth, 49) and games (10th, 552). His 68 assists in 2005-06 set a team record at the time. His 1.04 postseason points per game in 45 playoff games with the Lightning ranks fourth on the team’s all-time list.
The Lightning Hall of Fame honorees are selected by an 11-member committee that includes front office personnel, staff and media members, as well as the addition of longtime video coach Nigel Kirwan representing the team. To be considered, players are retired and had to play at least three seasons or 200 games with the Lightning. Non-players had to have been with the organization for at least 10 years.
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