In private at times, I call the 2004 Stanley Cup championship the "Andreycup" in homage of former team captain and long time NHL veteran Dave Andreychuk finally hoisting Lord Stanley's chalice above his head in victory. It's an acknowledgment of enduring to claim the ultimate NHL victory as well as his contribution to the team from the moment he joined the franchise.
Dave only played for three full seasons with the Bolts. You may recall the end of his career, mid-fourth season, and his January 2006 waiving by the team. Not exactly classy, but Dave had lost a step in "the new NHL"... A year layoff had hurt him (thank you, NHL lockout *grumble*). His place in franchise history had been cemented however, regardless.
It's been almost four years since the waiving and retirement of Andreychuk from the NHL. Dave is still very much involved in the local community and the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise as a whole. With those facts out there and a deep appreciation for what Andreychuk accomplished for the team, Chris Reddaway thought it was high time for the Bolts to correct what he sees as a wrong.
Reddaway created a group on Facebook devoted to getting #25 retired by the Lightning, and raised to the rafters of Times Palace:
Reddaway explains on the group that:
I was sitting around this morning...err...I mean working really hard!! But the thought came to me, "Why isn't Dave's #25 hanging from the rafters?" My wife and I had the discussion previously and I really thought it was going to happen the night that the Lightning honored him after he retired. But there I sat, shocked, that it didn't happen. A real missed opportunity in my opinion!
The group is an impassioned outcry over getting #25 retired in honor of Captain Andreychuk... I see it as a debatable honor, simply in the fact the Lightning have never retired a number before... But it's a debate certainly worth having.
To go with play quality and point production alone, people would have (and probably did for a while) believe that Brian Bradley's #19 should have been retired after he was forced to walk away from the game due to post concussion syndrome. Of course, a young man from Prince Edward Island came along wearing #19, and turned many of Bradley's stats on their head.
There are other players and fan favorites of the past who contributed to the Lightning since their inception and cemented their place in team history before disappearing from the NHL: Mikael Andersson and #34, John Cullen and #12, Rob Zamnuer and his #7 are just a scant few that fans may recall... Long tenured players or ones with connections with the team and the fanbase. All left a mark in one way or another.
None have had their numbers retired by the team. Like Andreychuk.
But do any of them even compare to Dave Andreychuk and what he achieved with the Lightning? Do they compare with the mark left by Dave on the franchise?
Let me pose the question -- what should be the criteria for retiring a number with the Lightning? Again, it's never been done.... Who do you see as the first player whose numbers will hang from the rafters? Whose numbers should never adorn another Lightning player's sweater?
Should #25 be retired? I'm certainly not against it, but it's a discussion and a debate worth having. Check out the group on Facebook to and join to show your support of the idea.
[Note by jpfdeuce, 10/14/09 5:57 PM EDT ] John Cullen's number was #12, I had posted #10 by mistake. Hat-tip to untexan in comments for pointing out the error.