Over the course of 23 years, Dave Andreychuk played in 1,759 games, scored the most power play goals by a single player in National Hockey League history and won a Stanley Cup championship. In order to reach these accomplishments, Andreychuk needed more than skill, strength and determination - he also needed a remarkable dedication to the sport of hockey.
Even though Andreychuk's days of playing hockey are over, the dedication the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain has to the sport still exists. It is his seemingly innate love of hockey that has brought "Andy" to the next phase of his hockey life as a Community Ambassador for the Lightning.
In his role as Community Ambassador Andreychuk will serve the Tampa Bay Area community in a variety of ways. From being a team liaison to corporate sponsors to representing the Lightning at local charities and youth hockey programs, Andreychuk will help promote the sport at all levels possible.
"We want him (Andreychuk) to touch all the kids, all the youth, that play hockey in this region," Lightning President Ron Campbell said of Andreychuk. "He's going to be doing youth clinics, he's going to be doing coaching clinics. We're also excited to announce that we're going to have a new initiative to work with our local governments to try and build more rinks in this region. We're going to use his expertise and his knowledge to try to grow grassroots hockey in the Tampa Bay region."
The move to Community Ambassador has been viewed as a logical step by both the Lightning organization and Andreychuk. As one of the most respected leaders in the team's history, Andreychuk was able to lead the Lightning to the heights of a Stanley Cup championship. Deciding to settle his family in Tampa upon his retirement, Andreychuk showed that a bond to the organization and community is not only one that exists, but one that he wants to develop in his retirement.
"From that January day I thought about this day when I would come back to the organization," Andreychuk said of when he finished his playing career. "As a lot of you know, I'm very passionate about our team and our organization, and this is just an opportunity for me to do whatever I can to help out."
Andreychuk, who will be honored for his contributions to the Lightning in a ceremony on December 5 prior to a game against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, also relishes the opportunity to continue working within the sport he loves.
"I never saw myself being too far away from the game," Andreychuk said. "I'm excited to be back in the building, to be able to watch hockey and to be able to contribute to the organization."
For the Lightning, Andreychuk's willingness to remain a prominent figure in the community is one they hope to take advantage of to further develop hockey tradition in the Tampa Bay area.
"We're trying to build tradition with ex-players," Campbell said. "Whether they're ex-NHLers or ex-Lightning players, they're welcome in this community. As we work together over the years, there will be a lot more contributions and memories from Dave Andreychuk for this community."
The contributions and memories Andreychuk hopes to create through his new position as Community Ambassador go beyond the records and achievements he reached as a player. What they will be built on is the dedication and passion he has for the sport he can't bring himself away from even after 23 years of playing professionally. It is precisely that love of hockey which is sure to make Andreychuk as successful as ever in the new chapter of his hockey life.