Hall of Fame finally invites Andreychuk inside

by Gary Shelton on June 27, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Tuesday, 2 p.m.

We never saw Dave Andreychuk score the way he was capable. Most of his 640 goals happened with other teams in other arenas.

We never saw him dominate on the power play. He scored 274 goals with an advantage, the most that anyone ever has.

We never saw him pile up the points. He had more than 80 six times, and twice, he hit 99.

But you know what we saw?

We saw Andreychuk lead. In the end, that turned out to be his finest talent.

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For much of his career, Andy was a scorer, a flash kind of players the fans love. He was a star, one of those heaven-kissed players who always carried his team's best chance on his stick. For most of his career, it seemed as if that would be Andreychuk's legacy.

And then, at the still-vital age of 38, he came to Tampa Bay.

And the Bolts have never been the same.

You won't find Andreychuk on most of the Lightning's career leader boards … except the one about leadership. Andy was the GPS of his Lightning teams, the guiding star. He was the classic leader, sacrificing his own numbers to help forge his team.

As John Tortella was using the cattle prod on his young Lightning team, it is impossible to say just how important Andreycheck was. He was the calming voice, the encouraging mentor. When Vinny Lecavalier was starting to get it, finally, it was Andreychuk who marked the moment by tapping his stick into the ice. He was the guy who had been a star, and who had sacrificed it for the good of his team.

Oh, he still scored more than 20 goals in three of his four years in Tampa. But his more important role was as the voice in the locker room. He taught this team how to win, and he taught those players how to lead themselves.

No, Andreychuk wasn't the only leader on the ice. There was Tim Taylor, and Marty St. Louis was starting to clear his voice. But Andreychuk was the most important voice in the team's locker room. He spent four seasons here, and when he lifted the Stanley Cup, it was the sweetest image in the history of the team.

It is a fine thing to spend a lifetime hearing the cheers, and then to commit yourself to making sure other players hear them. Without Andreychuk, there would be no Stanley Cup here. He was the trail boss for a talented young team as it came into its own. Ask Tortella: He'll tell you that Andreychuk was the good cop to his bad one in the team's formative years.

For a long time, however, Andreychuk seemed destined to live in the Hall of Pretty Good, that group of players judged not quite good enough for immortality. John Lynch of the Bucs is facing the same thing now. When you get denied often enough, it's easy for the voters to think “Hey, they didn't vote for him last year. Why should we vote for him this year?”

Finally, Andreychuck has made it to the Hall of Fame. About time, you might say. And you would be right.

Today, all of his followers are smiling. All of the teammates he made better, all of the teams he helped win, will feel good for him.

Dave Andreychuk is an immortal.

Around here, he always was.

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