Quick Strikes Q&A with Dave Andreychuk
A great NHL player in his own right, Dave Andreychuk did not leave hockey or the Tampa Bay Lightning far behind following his retirement in 2006.
In fact, it was less than three months after the conclusion of his playing days when Andreychuk found himself no longer on the ice, but in an office working in the team’s community relations department. The gig seemed to stick, to a degree, as the Bolts’ 2004 Stanley Cup captain was promoted to vice president of fans and business development in the spring of 2011, a role in which he currently serves.
In this edition of Quick Strikes, TampaBayLightning.com caught up with “Andy” to ask him about his transition into the business world, his commitment to the Tampa Bay community, and more.
What has the transition been like from your days as an NHL player to the offices of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization?
It’s been fun, and it really has been another challenge for me more than anything else. To me, it’s a great job and it’s been special.
What are some of the challenges you face in your new role?
Well for one, I’m not used to the Tampa traffic, leaving for work early in the morning like that. But I would say interacting with all of the fans on a one-on-one basis and being with them every day. Mostly they talk to me about my playing days and they share their stories, but I always try to talk to them about our team now and the direction of our organization. With that comes the challenge of making sure all of our fans are on board.
In contrast, what are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job as vice president of fans?
It’s great to hear their stories. They love to talk a lot about 2004, which is great. It’s also nice to hear just how passionate they are about the sport and our team and coming to games and the experience they have. When I hear good reports from our fans, it makes all of us in the organization feel good.
You’re actively involved in several charitable causes such as the Battle of Badges. How important is an event like that in creating a connection between the team and the community?
First and foremost, it’s always important to involve the community in as much as we can. We always talk about ways to reach out and be active, and in my eyes we have to continue to keep doing that. That one game you mentioned, the Battle of the Badges, is just another event in which the Lightning give back to the community and it’s a vital part of our organization. The C.H.A.R.G.E program as well, all of it is just a big part of what we do.
When you were still playing in the NHL, did you ever think that one day you’d be trading in the skates for a pair of business shoes?
Not at all. I guess when you’re playing you don’t really think a lot about what you might do down the road, what your life is going to be like or what’s going to happen after. But for me, it happened quickly after I retired. It was less than three months after when I got an office here as part of the community relations department, so I think you kind of think about what’s going to happen after you retire, but I didn’t necessarily think I was going to be putting a suit on every day.
You played for a number of different teams throughout your NHL career, so why did you decide to stay in Tampa Bay following your retirement as opposed to some of the other NHL cities in which you made a name for yourself?
I played all over the country and my family has traveled with me everywhere, but why did we pick here? Well obviously it’s a great community. The weather is awesome and my family has really taken to the lifestyle here in Tampa Bay. To be honest, my daughters don’t even want to go back up north anymore. When you think about where we are and all the options we have available to us here in the Tampa Bay area, you realize it’s a great community to live in.
You played 22 seasons in the NHL, so what is the key to longevity in a sport that takes such a physical toll on one’s body?
You have to have fun and enjoy it every day. You have to want to challenge yourself and be better than you were the day before. Along the way you might get lucky and play with some organizations who know who you are and who know your family, which is always nice. When I came here to Tampa Bay, the organization treated me as more of a person than anywhere else I had been. So, of course, having the ability to be fortunate to play in good situations makes it easier too.
It is well known that you serving in the role as captain helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2004. What attributes did you use in that role and how do you apply them to your job in the Lightning front office and in the community?
A lot of listening, to be honest with you. As a player, you have to be a soundboard between the coaching staff and the players, and I can relate that a little to the business world as well. There’s a lot that goes on in the office in which you have to listen and be open to your co-workers’ ideas. It’s all about having an ear to what people’s needs are.
You’re very involved within the organization with such activities like connecting with fans, serving as an ambassador in the community, participating in youth hockey clinics and even appearing on Sun Sports for in-game analysis. How do you manage all of those tasks, and still find time at the end of the day to be with your wife and three daughters?
Well, I rely on my calendar a lot. You really do the best you can to split time between your job and your family, but more than that, it’s a family effort. They have to be on board, too. We do a lot of community service, all of us together, which helps, but I’m still young and I feel as if I haven’t been retired that long. There is still plenty to enjoy and my family and I, we do the best we can.
Not only is your name on the Stanley Cup, but you also have an arena named in your honor in Hamilton, Ontario. Of the two, which did you think would happen first?
I never thought there would be a rink in my name in my hometown, so that was really exciting and special. It’s the rink that I started playing hockey in when I was seven-years-old, and it’s there where I brought the Cup back after we won it and they named the building that same day, so I have a lot of memories there. That day in particular was really great, not just for me, but for my whole family. My mom and dad were there, and all my aunts and uncles, so to have my name on it really meant a lot.