The Sweater Series (or Notable Numbers): #25 Dave Andreychuk

Dave Andreychuk holds the Stanley Cup aloft forever as he welcomes visitors to the Tampa Bay Times Forum - Clark Brooks

Today, our tour of the numbers worn throughout Lightning history lands on #25, as worn by the only Bolt to be immortalized in bronze and the man that people still refer to as The Captain, Dave Andreychuk.

The Lightning have yet to honor any former player by retiring a number, however they have immortalized one player in the form of a larger-than-life bronze statue outside of the arena, the captain of the 2004 Stanley Cup champions, Dave Andreychuk.

At the time of his acquisition prior to the 2001-02 season, a lot of people (myself included) saw it as yet another attempt by management to wring a little bit of production from a player who was clearly past his prime. After all, he was 38-years-old and had just finished his 19th season in the NHL. Most of his previous time had been spent with the Buffalo Sabres (twice) as well as stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. He came to the Lightning with the well-earned reputation of being consistently reliable, if not spectaular. He had flirted with 100-point seasons a few times but could be counted on for around 30 to 40 points a season, plus hard work, especially on the power play. Over time, he also developed an unfortunate reputation for being in the right place at the wrong time, narrowly missing Stanley Cup opportunities with the Devils and Avalanche. 

That's exactly what he contributed to the Lightning, plus an element that had been lacking: leadership. Named the 7th captain in franchise history, he is largely credited with changing the culture of the organization. As best exemplified by his edict forbidding anyone to step on the Lightning logo emblazoned on the carpet in the dressing room, he demanded respect for the crest and that players take pride in being a member of the Lightning. He also shed the "missed it by that much" mantle by leading the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship in his 22nd season, tying Ray Bourque for longest career before doing so,

The following season was lost to a lockout and the year off hampered him. He was waived by the Lightning in January of 2006, ending his playing career. He finished with 1,639 games played (sixth most in NHL history), 640 goals (14th) and 1,338 total points (tied for 28th with former Lightning winger and hall of famer Denis Savard) as well as the NHL all-time record for power play goals with 274.

After Andreychuk retired, no one wore the #25 for five years and it was widely believed to have been deemed off-limits pending an official retirement. However, when defenseman Matt Carle was re-acquired prior to the 2012-13 season, he requested it. After discussion with Andreychuk and members of Lightning management, including owner Jeff Vinik, it was given to Carle. It's around that time that the idea of erecting a statue in Andreychuk's honor began, gaining traction with the timing of the 10th anniversary of the Cup run. When asked about the significance of the statue as compared to a jersey retirement, Andreychuk said, "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." 

Today, Andreychuk and his wife Sue and their three daughters live in Tampa, where he serves as Vice President of Corporate and Community Affairs with the Lightning. He is a visible presence at Lightning home games and has also done some television work with Sun Sports.  

Others to have worn #25 include Marc Bergevin, Allen Egeland, Dan Kesa, Dwayne Hey and Matt Carle.

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