Tuesday, 22 February 2011

First Of His Kind

Once you have hoisted the Stanley Cup after an exhausting 82-game season plus sixteen more wins in the playoffs, is there anything that compares in terms of the magnitude of that win? I'm going to say that there aren't a lot of experiences similar for a hockey player, but former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk received an extremely high honour last week when it was announced that he will be the first hockey player inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. There are a vast number of sports icons already in the Flordia Sports Hall of Fame, but Andreychuk is the first hockey player to be inducted - a pretty big accomplishment considering that NHL hockey has been in the state since 1992.

Andreychuk won't be the only athlete inducted this year, though. Joining him will be former MLB outfielder Vince Coleman, former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli, Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former MLB slugger Fred McGriff, former NCAA quarterback Gino Torretta, surfer Kelly Slater, and University of Florida women’s volleyball coach Mary Wise. That's some pretty elite company!

The induction ceremony happened last Wednesday, and Andreychuk was honoured to be among such an elite class of athletes.

"It came as a surprise really when I received the call and was told I was going to be inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame," Andreychuk told Peter Pupello. "No one would ever quite connect Florida and the sport of hockey together, so for me, it’s quite an honor."

While Andreychuk wasn't the Lightning's most prolific scorer in his four seasons with the club, he did leave his mark on the Lightning. In 278 games, he scored 68 goals, added 61 assists, and was the captain of an emerging young team. During the playoff run to the Stanley Cup championship, Andreychuk scored one goal but had 13 assists in helping the Lightning to the pinnacle of hockey greatness in 2004.

Contributing to his success was his work the the community. Mr. Andreychuk founded the Dave Andreychuk Foundation in 2007, and the organization works to help underprivileged and sick kids realize their goals and dreams. To date, the Dave Andreychuk Foundation has supported St. Joseph's Children's Hospital and the Moffitt Cancer Center in the US and McMaster Children's Hospital and the Hamilton Minor Hockey Council in Canada. Mr. Andreychuk's community work will be featured in an upcoming article as well, so stay tuned!

"Dave made a significant contribution bringing Florida its first and only Stanley Cup and putting hockey on the map in the state," Florida Sports Hall of Fame president Rick Dantzler said. "He has done enormous things within his community and who he is off the ice certainly fit the character component of the selection process."

Clearly, Mr. Andreychuk is deserving of this award as he captained the only Florida-based NHL team to a championship and had graciously given his time and support to various organizations throughout Florida to help children. Mr. Andreychuk's work in the community didn't end when his career ended, though, and his commitment to children's charities across North America is a great indication of the kind of man he is.

Congratulations to Mr. Dave Andreychuk, the first hockey player to be inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame ever!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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