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Playoffs 2004

High profile: Dave Andreychuk

By TOM JONES
Published April 8, 2004

photo
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Andreychuk is 6-4 and weighs 220 pounds, but he has the touch of a much-smaller player.

-- 16th overall pick by Buffalo, 1982.

-- Playing in his 22nd season. Has played for six teams: Buffalo, Toronto, New Jersey, Boston, Colorado and the Lightning.

-- Lightning captain since Sept. 11, 2002.

-- NHL All-Star in 1990, 1994.

IT'S NOT IN HIS HEAD

Most guys in Andreychuk's station would curse the hockey gods and lie awake at night wondering what they did wrong. Of the 22 teams he has played on, only three have missed the playoffs. Yet no active player (and only six others in NHL history) has played more games than Andreychuck without winning a Stanley Cup. In fact, he never even has played in the Cup final.

"That's why I'm playing the game, to win the Stanley Cup," Andreychuk, 40, said. "I don't think it's the end-all if I don't win. I would like to win a Stanley Cup, but I wouldn't give up a lot on my career, the people I've met, the teams I played on, just to win a Stanley Cup. But obviously that's why I'm playing."

His chances of winning a Cup never have looked better heading into the postseason. The Lightning is seeded No. 1 in the East and, perhaps two months from now, Andreychuk will be lining up in Game 1 of the final.

"I would like to experience it," Andreychuk said. "Obviously, I've talked to a lot of people, a lot of players that I've played with over the years. The feeling of going in, you know, you're the last two teams, I would like to experience that. It's something that obviously I haven't done in my career. I'm hoping to get a chance this year."

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Andreychuk's choices have led to his Cupboard, so to speak, being bare. He could have re-signed with Colorado in 1999, but chose to follow his heart and the heart of his family by returning to Buffalo, where he began his career. The Avs went on to win the Cup that season.

Two years ago, the Lightning was about to miss the playoffs again and offered Andreychuk a trade to playoff-bound Montreal. Andreychuk said no.

He has no regrets.

"This has worked out very well for me," Andreychuk said. "I'm very happy my wife talked me into to making the move to (Tampa Bay). This organization has accepted me and given me a chance."

THE LIGHTNING IS IN GOOD HANDS

With a pair of paws fitting for a man 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, Andreychuk's deft touch is more suited for a player a foot smaller and 50 pounds lighter. Scoring most of his goals in an area smaller than a telephone booth, Andreychuk's uncanny hand-eye coordination has racked up an NHL-record 270 power-play goals. And those famous hands have produced an incredible 19 20-goal season, a true mark of consistency. That streak includes this season even though, as Andreychuk says, "it looked pretty shaky at one point."

But with a hot second half, Andreychuk again cracked the 20-goal barrier.

"The consistency in my game is something I've prided myself in over the years," Andreychuk said. "I tried to be there every night, every season. I guess assuming that I'll look back on this sometime when my career is over and think about, you know, how consistent I was. But I'm going into each year trying to be a consistent player. I pride myself in the games played. It shows my love of the game, the way I approach the game. Obviously, scoring goals in every season is something that I'm pretty proud of."

All that's left is to score just one goal, as long as that goal is a Stanley Cup winner.

[Last modified April 8, 2004, 08:28:50]

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