It's not the number-retirement ceremony that some Tampa Bay Lightning fans have long called for, but former team captain Dave Andreychuk will be honored by the Lightning on April 5th with a bronze statue.The unveiling takes place at 6:30 PM on that Saturday evening before the Lightning face the Dallas Stars; the ceremony will be broadcast on local television -- CW 44 -- which will also be carrying the game that evening.
Dave's life-size bust on Thunder Alley will join that of team founder Phil Esposito, who was honored with a bronze bust in 2012 as a lead in to the Bolts (stunted by way of lockout) 20th anniversary season.
Andreychuk is endeared to the fans here in Tampa by way of what his captaincy brought to the franchise; he turned the locker room around and demanded players have self-respect toward the logo they wear. The locke rroom is emblazed with the team logo on the rug -- and anyone who steps on it is fined for the transgression.
He was instrumental in getting the Bolts to the 2004 NHL playoffs, and finally -- after a lengthy career and numerous close calls, got to raise Lord Stanley's Cup as a victory.
Before tonight's game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Clark Brooks got some words from Dave about the honor:
Of all the ways your career has been commemorated, did you ever think there would be a statue?
"No, not at all. Not at all. You know, obviously it's a great honor. To me, it's what Mr. Vinik is all about. It's first class. I was overwhelmed when we were told. My family was overwhelmed. It symbolizes a moment. For us as a team and when you dig deeper, it's my moment, but it's really something the whole community should be proud of."
How does this compare with other individual honors, such as a jersey number retirement?
"To me, this is eternity. This is going to be here for a long time. Every Lightning fan, everybody in Tampa Bay is going to see it. With it being in the front of our building, any visitor is going to see it. Can you compare the two? Not really. It's just Mr. Vinik's philosophy that there are no numbers that are retired. When he told me (about the statue), we talked about it. This doesn't mean that there's not going to be a retired jersey some time in the future, but right now, Mr. Vinik wanted to symbolize my career and what happened 10 years ago."
When did you find out about it?
"Probably a couple of months ago. They started working on the statue and then i was kind of brought in on it. So I've been in a little bit on the process, but I haven't seen much lately."
How involved have you been?
"We took pictures when I went over there originally, with some measurements. How big my jersey was on me, the size of my head. I did tell them I was about 20 lbs lighter then."
Any feedback from Phil Esposito?
"No, I haven't talked to Phil yet but I will talk to him for sure. You know, there are not that many NHL statues which is kind of cool too. Obviously, Wayne (Gretzky) has one. the ones in Philly. Bobby Orr of course. But not many really, so its special. Hopefully, I don't have to take my picture with it for everybody, but that's the cool thing about it. Everybody who comes here is going to see it. Not everybody comes to hockey games but they all come to the Forum."