An­dr­ey­chuk fi­nally joins Hockey’s Hall of Fame

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS -

TORONTO » Dave An­dr­ey­chuk sensed his num­bers would be good enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He just had to stay pa­tient.

An­dr­ey­chuk re­tired in 2006 af­ter a 23-year NHL ca­reer, and his 640 goals make him the 14th-high­est scor­ing player. Of the 17 re­tired play­ers to hit the 600-goal mark, he was the only one not in the Hall other than co-in­ductee Teemu Se­lanne de­spite be­ing el­i­gi­ble for in­duc­tion since 2009. Se­lanne be­came el­i­gi­ble this year.

“I think 600 goals on the re­sume, it’s got to hap­pen even­tu­ally,” An­dr­ey­chuk said. “To be hon­est when I look at the time it took to get in it just makes it sweeter. I think the num­bers speak for them­selves. You just hope your time will come.”

An­dr­ey­chuk joined the Hall on Fri­day a with NHL greats, Mark Rec­chi, Se­lanne and Paul Kariya and Cana­dian women’s star Danielle Goyette. Long­time Cana­dian univer­sity coach Clare Drake and Bos­ton Bru­ins owner Jeremy Jacobs en­tered in the builder cat­e­gory.

An in­duc­tion cer­e­mony was sched­uled for Mon­day night.

The 54-year-old An­dr­ey­chuk — who was drafted in 1982 by Buf­falo and made stops in Toronto, New Jersey, Bos­ton, Colorado and Tampa Bay — was driv­ing on a Florida free­way to pick up his wife from the air­port when he got the call.

“My heart started to race right away. I im­me­di­ately hung up and called my fa­ther,” said An­dr­ey­chuk, not­ing he pulled off the road to take the call. “My mother did most the talk­ing, say­ing ‘It was about time,’ but my fa­ther was cry­ing at the same time.”

The long wait never rat­tled the man de­scribed by his peers as a nat­u­ral leader. An­dr­ey­chuk went 22 sea­sons be­fore lift­ing the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay.

“It’s like win­ning the Stanley Cup,” he said. “You’ve been dream­ing about it all your life but you don’t know how you’re go­ing to re­act un­til it hap­pens.”

An­dr­ey­chuk is still the ca­reer leader for power-play goals with 274. Most came from in front of the net, with his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame pay­ing the price. He earned his pay­check by be­ing a goalie’s night­mare.

“It started in ju­nior, 16, 17 years old,” he said. “You re­al­ize that’s where my bread and but­ter was go­ing to be. Not a lot of pretty goals, to be hon­est. Not sure if there’s a high­light-reel goal.”

An­dr­ey­chuk played 1,639 games in the NHL and had 19 sea­sons with at least 20 goals, with a ca­reer-high 54 in 1992-93 with Toronto.

For­mer Maple Leafs team­mate Doug Gil­mour once said part of An­dr­ey­chuk’s se­cret to suc­cess was his abil­ity to cre­ate a bet­ter scor­ing op­por­tu­nity by in­ten­tion­ally plac­ing a shot at a goalie’s pad and then col­lect­ing his own re­bound.

“Ab­so­lutely, it’s very true,” An­dr­ey­chuk said. “Play­ers I played with knew what was hap­pen­ing. I did it on pur­pose.”

An­dr­ey­chuk spent the first 11 sea­sons in Buf­falo and it dis­ap­pointed him that the Sabres’ qual­ity teams in the late 1980s couldn’t de­liver in the play­offs.

A trade to Toronto in 1993 placed him on a line with an­other Hall of Famer in Gil­mour, which turned into back-to-back 50-goal sea­sons and two con­fer­ence fi­nal ap­pear­ances with the team he cheered for grow­ing up in Hamil­ton.

“Child­hood dream to put the Leafs jersey on. Hard to be­lieve a 30-year-old guy could walk into a dress­ing room and still shake,” An­dr­ey­chuk said.

Re­tir­ing with­out a Stanley Cup looked pos­si­ble for An­derychuk af­ter 19 sea­sons. But in 2001, at 37, he signed with Tampa Bay and it all came to­gether. He would spend four years with the Light­ning, the fi­nal three as cap­tain, and won his only Cup.

He still has a lead­er­ship role with the or­ga­ni­za­tion as the team’s vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate and com­mu­nity af­fairs.

An­dr­ey­chuk was orig­i­nally drafted 16th over­all by Buf­falo gen­eral man­ager Scotty Bow­man, who com­pared the 18-year-old to Hall of Famer Phil Es­pos­ito. Now, Es­pos­ito and An­dr­ey­chuk have stat­ues out­side Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay — Es­pos­ito for be­ing a co-founder of the fran­chise and An­dr­ey­chuk for bring­ing the city its first Cup.

An­dr­ey­chuk said it took more than skill to rack up 1,338 points, win a Stanley Cup and get his plaque in the Hall.

“Some of it’s God-given tal­ent and some of it you work at ... It paid off for me,” he said.

CHRISTO­PHER KATSAROV — THE CANA­DIAN PRESS VIA AP

Hockey Hall of Fame in­ductee Dave An­dr­ey­chuk speaks to re­porters af­ter a news con­fer­ence in Toronto, Fri­day.

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