He came to Tampa in 2001. Over 13 years later, former NHL left winger Dave Andreychuk still stands as one of the many pillars to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
Tonight, the Lightning will honor its Stanley Cup captain and vice president of corporate and community affairs with a pre-game ceremony to unveil a nine-foot statue outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The statue will depict Andreychuk lifting the Stanley Cup, capturing the moment after the Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the 2004 finals.
Andreychuk, who of targeted a then-mediocre Lightning team over a Stanley Cup contender after his original Buffalo Sabres team opted not to re-sign him, provided one aspect the team lacked, veteran leadership. His accomplishments of bringing a Stanley Cup championship to Tampa Bay as well as his current leadership in the Lightning's front office illustrates why team chairman and governor Jeff Vinik is awarding Andreychuk with such a long-term recognition.
"The image of captain Dave Andreychuk hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head at center ice is one of the most iconic memories in Lightning history," said Vinik in a statement. "We are excited to share this moment with every fan that attends a Lightning home game by honoring Dave with this statue."
Appearing in 1,639 career games with 640 goals and 1,338 points, respectively, Andreychuk's stint with the Lightning proved to be some of his most successful years. In 2002, during his second season with the team, he broke the NHL record for most power-play goals, an accomplishment he still holds with 274. Despite receiving offers from playoff-bound teams before the Bolts became successful in the postseason, Andreychuk insisted on remaining with the Lightning to finish the work he had started. This eventually led to the franchise's best season to date.
After being appointed to his current front office position in February 2011, Andreychuk's duties entail creating campaigns for ticket sales to increase season ticket holders as well as keeping the community involved with the sport of hockey through the Lightning's youth hockey outreach and Lightning University programs. In addition, Andreychuk is a lead analyst for the Sun Sports broadcasts of Lightning games.
Although the Lightning will create a permanent fixture for one of its most dominant faces, Andreychuk considers his tenure with the team and winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 a group effort.
"It's really cool and a lot of fun, and it's great for my family," Andreychuk said to his hometown newspaper, The Hamilton Spectator. "But I wouldn't say it's all about me. It's about that moment of us winning. I think it's really cool that anyone who comes to our building will see it, and relive the moment and tell their kids about it. That's what's special."
Tampa sculptor Steven Dickey designed the 600-pound statue of Andreychuk that will be displayed in front of Ford Thunder Alley. Dickey also created the statue of Lightning founder and vice president of corporate relations Phil Esposito that sits outside the entrance to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The ceremony will take place at 6:15 p.m. prior to tonight’s puck drop against the Dallas Stars, both of which will be aired on CW44.
Andreychuk said he is excited about the impact the statue will have on fans when they attend Lightning games in order to help them become more familiar with the team's history.
"A lot of people who know hockey know about us and what we've done, but there are a lot of people who don't," Andreychuk said. "And this will help them know. Obviously, it is a great honour."