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Lightning signs Andreychuk

The signing of the 37-year-old left wing caps off a productive week for the Lightning.

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 14, 2001


Determined his team would shed its reputation as the laziest in the NHL, Rick Dudley delivered a message during his first training camp as the Buffalo Sabres' coach in 1989.

"I kicked their (butts) from Day 1," said Dudley, now the Lightning's general manager. "But if it hadn't been for Dave Andreychuk ... he's such an influential guy, he took the rest of the team and accepted what we were doing and he grasped it and he dragged everybody along with him."

The Sabres finished second in the Adams Division, and Dudley never forgot Andreychuk's influence.

That is part of the reason the 37-year-old left wing, a veteran of 1,361 games, was offered and accepted a one-year contract Friday.

In obtaining Andreychuk, the Lightning gains a consistent goal scorer and another veteran at an affordable price.

Though his base salary will be close to $1-million, performance-based bonuses could push that figure higher than the $1.1-million he made last year with the Sabres.

"Obviously I didn't want to roll the dice and wait until September and let this pass by," Andreychuk said in an interview posted on the Lightning's Web site. "The situation was too good for me to pass up."

His signing, along with that of 39-year-old defenseman Grant Ledyard, capped a productive week for Tampa Bay.

"Everything we roll seems to be coming up lucky for us lately," Dudley said. "We've gotten just about everything we wanted."

Forward Ryan Johnson and a sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft were traded to the Panthers for Vaclav Prospal Tuesday, backup goaltender Kevin Weekes signed a two-year, $2.7-million deal Wednesday and draft choices Michal Lanicek, Alexander Pulukeyev and Marek Priechodsky signed three-year rookie contracts Thursday.

The Lightning also has acquired center Juha Ylonen, defenseman Mathieu Biron, defenseman Nolan Pratt and center Tim Taylor this offseason.

"I think we've made a step in the past two or three weeks ... as far as a go-between between coaches to the young players," coach John Tortorella said. "I think the dressing room can start taking over a little bit here. That's a major, major thing that needs to be accomplished before we even think about stepping on the ice."

Andreychuk, who was coached by Tortorella in Buffalo and also played with Lightning assistant Craig Ramsay, has scored 20 goals in the past two seasons with New Jersey, Boston and Buffalo and averaged 58 points in each of the past 10 seasons.

"I go into a season every year trying to be consistent," Andreychuk said. "As this summer went on, I still felt that there was a desire to play, a desire to be around the guys, a desire to help guys get better and Tampa was the right situation for me."

A proven scorer, he has 572 career goals and 637 assists. His 236 power play goals tie him with Brett Hull for second in league history.

"People will say he's slowing down, but Dave Andreychuk was slowing down 10 years ago," Dudley said. "He's an incredibly competitive person, an incredibly gifted guy when it comes to having the puck around the net.

"He's one of the better power play people in the history of the game and I don't see that changing. We expect a lot from him."

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