Author's Note: This is part of a five-part series detailing players who dazzled with their play and presence while lacing up the skates for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Some are currently on the roster, while others either play elsewhere or have retired. The other players covered in the series are Nikolai Khabibulin, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Steven Stamkos.
Being a Tampa Bay Lightning fan is not the easiest task in the world right now.
After a deep run into the playoffs last season that ended in a Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to eventual champions Boston, hopes were high headed into this season. With much of the roster intact, there was little reason to expect much of a drop-off.
Unfortunately, the 2011-2012 season has not gone to plan for the Tampa Bay Lightning so far, as their as their 14-17-2 record puts them in a distant 4th place in the Southeast Division.
In order to brighten the spirits of downtrodden Lightning fans, I present Dave Andreychuk, one of the greatest individuals ever play for the team, who gave fans plenty of reasons to cheer.
Dave Andreychuk had a big decision ahead of him in 2001. After 21 stellar seasons in the NHL, the one thing eluding the respected veteran was a Stanley Cup. He had been to the Conference Finals on multiple occasions but had never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
With the end of his career nearing, whichever team he chose to sign with would most likely represent his final chance to make it to the Finals and have a shot at hoisting the Cup.
Andreychuck shocked the league by signing with the Lightning, who were one of the most downtrodden teams in all of sports.
Andreychuk's arrival signaled the turning point for the Lightning.
After all, one of the wisest, most-respected players in the league saw something that made him believe in the Lightning; those around him couldn't help but follow his lead and start believing.
Andreychuk immediately became captain and proceeded to bring about a miraculous change in the organization. The Lightning quickly worked their way to success, making the playoffs in Andreychuk's second season there.
Andreychuk's faith in the Tampa Bay Lightning was rewarded in 2004, when he finally got to hoist Lord Stanley's Trophy as captain of the Stanley Cup-champion Lightning.
It was arguably one of the most beautiful moments in league history.
Dave Andreychuk may not have come anywhere near the prolific numbers he posted earlier in his career, but his belief in the Tampa Bay Lightning forever altered the course of the franchise.