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Lockout would put end to Andreychuk's career

At 40, Lightning captain knows he could be visiting some arenas for the last time.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published February 22, 2004

WASHINGTON - It's not exactly a farewell tour. In fact, Dave Andreychuk said he will not decide about retirement until next summer.

But with the possibility a lockout could wipe out next season, the Lightning captain has noted as special when Tampa Bay played in certain arenas for the last time this season because those times might be his final times.

Andreychuk said Saturday that a lockout would likely force him to retire.

"Depending on how long it goes, if we miss a year of hockey, it's going to be tough for me to come back," he said, then added, laughing,"I'd stiffen up a little bit more." It might be tough for him to come back even if the 2004-05 season is played.

Andreychuk, 40 and in his 22nd season, still loves the game and is getting a kick out of Tampa Bay's success. But he admitted this has been one of his "tougher years" in terms of the aches and pains.

Andreychuk declined to be specific, but said, "I wouldn't say it's anything serious. It's just a combination of one thing after another, and that's what makes a difference. I don't feel 100 percent every game, and it's tough at times.

"I guess when you're younger you feel like you can bounce back a little quicker. I've struggled with it. But I still enjoy the game and am still having fun."

And he is contributing. Andreychuk has not missed a game and averages 16:59 of ice time, 33 seconds more than last season, and with 13 goals, a 19th 20-goal season is in reach. Only Gordie Howe (22) and Ron Francis (20) have more.

Entering Saturday, Andreychuk was 10th in the league, having won 56.9 percent of his

faceoffs. And his two power-play goals during Friday's 4-3 OT loss to the Sabres gave him an NHL-best 265.

But Andreychuk, who has 626 goals, was troubled by his effort at Buffalo's HSBC Arena. Dozens of family and friends attended to see what might have been his final game in the city where he began his career and still has a home.

If only he had buried his breakaway 18 seconds into overtime.

"I could have won the game for us," Andreychuk said. "So that's what I had to think about all night long."

Thinking about his future, and his past, well ... what arena are we in?

"I'm not thinking about it every game," Andreychuk said. "I thought about it in Montreal. There are certain buildings that I've had fun in, and I think it might be my last time there.

"I have thoughts every day about what's going to happen. The longer it goes on, the more you sway toward retirement. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but it can't go on forever."

[Last modified February 22, 2004, 01:45:26]

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