Dave Andreychuk candidly considered his age, then couldn’t help but to laugh at the thought of receiving another shiny trophy well into his late 40s.
The game he loves requires patience, and the sport itself certainly taught him that. After all, he was just a few months shy of age 41 when he raised his first Stanley Cup high above his head.
“That one took long enough,” Andreychuk joked. “Honestly, I thought that was going to be it.”
He won’t have to wait nearly as long for the next award, which will be presented to him Wednesday at a ceremony held at the Florida State Fairgrounds as he is inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
Andreychuk will be joined by former major league outfielder Vince Coleman, one-time Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli, Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Derrick Brooks, Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays slugger Fred McGriff, former collegiate quarterback standout Gino Torretta, world-renowned surfer Kelly Slater and current University of Florida women’s volleyball coach Mary Wise.
That Andreychuk will be inducted into the prestigious organization among such elite company is just one of many honors that will make Wednesday’s induction ceremony what he expects to be “a special night.”
“It came as a surprise really when I received the call and was told I was going to be inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame,” Andreychuk said. “No one would ever quite connect Florida and the sport of hockey together, so for me, it’s quite an honor.”
The former Lightning captain goes in to the hall with the merit of being the first hockey player inducted, which comes on the same night that the Florida Sports Hall of Fame will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
“That’s a great distinction,” he added. “Absolutely. Not only for me, but for the Lightning too. To be the first guy inducted that has played the sport, it really shows the progress of our game here and that our sport is being recognized.”
Andreychuk’s selection, while a surprise to him, was quite the opposite to the hall’s president, Rick Dantzler, who didn’t hesitate to admit that consideration of the hockey great’s candidacy was a no-brainer. Andreychuk’s character and previous professional work in the Tampa Bay community translated nearly identically onto paper where the hall’s mission statement is clearly stated, in that it recognizes and honors Florida’s greatest sports figures and events, while leveraging a collective celebrity to promote education and sports activities among all residents in the state of Florida.
Much of that became transparent in his role with the Lightning at the conclusion of his remarkable 23-year career, when he assumed the position of community representative with the organization. Andreychuk quickly made himself visible throughout the entire Tampa Bay region through charitable service and by reaching out to fans.
“Dave made a significant contribution bringing Florida its first and only Stanley Cup and putting hockey on the map in the state,” Dantzler said. “He has done enormous things within his community and who he is off the ice certainly fit the character component of the selection process.”
Andreychuk capped off an illustrious career midway through the 2005-06 season with career totals of 1,639 games played, 640 goals and 1,338 points. On June 7, 2004, he won his first career Stanley Cup and answered the call of thousands of raucous and Cup-hungry fans in attendance at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Back then, he happily obliged.
Wednesday night will be no different.