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Andreychuk among numerous greats selected to partake in 2013 Winter Classic Alumni Games between Leafs-Wings

by Clune Walsh / Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning vice president of fans and 2004 Stanley Cup captain Dave Andreychuk will be returning to the ice in 2012-13.

However, it won’t be for the Tampa Bay Lightning, nor will it be for an official NHL regular-season game. Rather, Andreychuk will be participating in the 2013 Winter Classic Alumni game on behalf of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With the 2013 Winter Classic set to take place in January at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings felt compelled to decide on players for the alumni game that preludes the actual Winter Classic itself.

Being original-six members, both clubs have no shortage of noteworthy players that have donned their respective sweaters.

Andreychuk, who still remains extremely active with both the league and the Lightning, was eager to accept the invite.

“I kind of knew it was coming down the pipeline sometime soon and when the Leafs called I was more than happy to commit to it right away,” Andreychuk said. “I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Prior to joining the Bolts in 2001, Andreychuk had spent some time in Toronto playing alongside the likes of Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, and Glenn Anderson. He said he expects the chance to reunite with his former mates and join them on the ice a second time will be just like old times.

“It was really special for me living right around the corner in Hamilton and having the opportunity to be playing so close to home and alongside some great players,” he added. “It was really exciting to play for those fans too.”

Andreychuk will be going up against a few familiar faces during the Alumni Game, as he is no stranger to big-game situations against the Red Wings.

When asked about the heated 1993 Conference Semifinal meeting between the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs, Andreychuk replied with fond recollection.

“That group of guys in particular were all really close,” he said. “That series was awesome for us because we were coming in as the underdogs. Winning Game 6 in Toronto and then winning Game 7 in Detroit in overtime was a huge thrill for us.”

The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play two alumni outdoor games Dec. 31, 2012.

The 1993 meeting between the Maple Leafs and the Wings represented the last significant playoff clash between the two original-six clubs since they were realigned into separate conferences in 1998.

The memorable seven-game series also held significance for Andreychuk due to the circumstances of the matchup.

“It was the first time I had really won a playoff series like that, there was so much emotion and everyone really put everything they had into it,” Andreychuk said.

While in Toronto, Andreychuk appeared in 223 regular season games, scoring 120 goals and registering 219 points in his four seasons with the Maple Leafs.

Andreychuk thrived during two deep playoff runs with Toronto during the 1993 and 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs, reaching the Conference Finals in both years and coming within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993.

He posted 20 goals and 34 points in 46 postseason games during the three postseason appearances with the Maple Leafs. After being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 1995 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toronto sent Andreychuk to New Jersey the following season.

But come January at the annual Winter Classic Alumni Game, Andreychuk will revert back to his Toronto days and don the Maple Leaf, only this time, he’ll be representing the Lightning too.

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