Mike Harrington: Andreychuk's path led from the Aud to the Hall - The Buffalo News

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Mike Harrington: Andreychuk's path led from the Aud to the Hall

TORONTO -- At the start of his Hall of Fame weekend, Dave Andreychuk spent plenty of time Friday afternoon thinking about where his NHL odyssey started.

Memorial Auditorium is just a hole in the ground these days but it was the site where yet another Hall of Fame career was born.

Andreychuk was taken by the Sabres at No. 16 in the 1982 draft, 10 spots after current coach Phil Housley. He stayed for 11 years and then came back for one more in 2000 in what's now KeyBank Center.

But the Aud was where it was at. Andreychuk, 54, still remembers the roar from the top row of the Oranges all the way to the Golds. The shaking of the glass. Milt Ellis on the PA system. Like we all remember if you're a certain age (kids, ask your parents).

"It was fun. The fans were into it when you think about that building," he said Friday in the Great Hall, where his new plaque has already been installed. "It obviously fit my game. With all these new buildings now, we miss that in our game today. Especially at The Aud."

Andreychuk said he knew a lot about the Sabres when he was drafted by then-coach and GM Scotty Bowman from watching their games against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I knew the team but I had never been in the building before," he said. "I knew Scotty, and Gilbert Perreault was there. There were a lot of veterans when we got there and it helped us a lot."

Dave Andreychuk's Hall of Fame plaque (Mike Harrington/Buffalo News).

 

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Andreychuk came on board at a time when Housley, a red-head from the Minnesota high school ranks, was the rage. Now he's the Sabres head coach and a Hall of Famer as well.

"It is quite an honor," Andreychuk said. "We look back on our careers, the both of us, and we were together for a long time. We made each other better. We both went on to our different teams but we grew up together for sure."

Andreychuk said he talked to Housley at length last year in Nashville and felt his former teammate had become ready to take the next step on his coaching career.

"I watched him from afar when he was with the US team (in the World Juniors) and he's going to be OK." Andreychuk said. "He's always had that in him. You could tell as a player he knows the game very well. It's going to take some time there. He's got to get the right players in that system but he's the perfect guy for it."

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What else stands out about Andreychuk's time in Buffalo? His five-goal game at Boston in 1986, which he still has pucks from in his Tampa office. He was reminded of his winning goal against the Bruins in a 1983 game that saw Buffalo wipe out a 6-1 deficit to emerge with a 7-6 victory ("What a night that was"). Neither feat has since been repeated in club annals.

And the magic of Rick Jeanneret's voice. Andreychuk said he loved "La-La-La-La-LaFontaine." You can't emulate Jeanneret's calls but players certainly try to all the time.

"Nobody can," Andreychuk said. "We listened to them the next day. We watched the highlights and made sure he was on. We made sure he was on and we were all cheering the next day for the goals. Good man."

Andreychuk was part of a seven-member class that received its Hall rings Friday from chairman Lanny McDonald, whose trademark moustache is still going strong at age 64. Boston Bruins owner and Buffalo native Jeremy Jacobs is in the class. So are longtime NHL stalwarts Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya and Mark Recchi, Canadian women's star Danielle Goyette and legendary Canadian college coach Clare Drake, a mentor to the likes of Mike Babcock, Ken Hitchcock and Barry Trotz.

The class will be honored all weekend, starting with Friday night's Leafs-Bruins game, and will give their formal induction speeches here Monday night.

The Class of 2017: Teemu Selanne, Mark Recchi, Paul Kariya, Jeremy Jacobs, Danielle Goyette and Dave Andreychuk (Getty Images).

Andreychuk will certainly reminisce about his youth days in Hamilton, his junior career in Oshawa and all his NHL stops. Notably Buffalo, Toronto, New Jersey and Tampa Bay, with 77 games thrown in between Boston and Colorado.

Andreychuk is 14th on the all-time list with 640 goals and is the league's all-time leader on the power play with 274, most of which came from within 10 feet of the net. He scored 368 goals for the Sabres, more than anyone except Perreault and Rick Martin, finished second to Perreault in points at 804 and is the all-time leader in power play tallies at 161.

"As a 16- or 17-year-old, that's when you realize my bread and butter was going to be made in front of the net and not a lot of pretty goals to be honest," he said. "I don't know if there's any highlight reel goals. But at the same time you had to go there and do the dirty work to get those goals and that's what I did."

Bowman had compared Andreychuk to Phil Esposito when he drafted him. As a contemporary, Andreychuk and Philadelphia behemoth Tim Kerr were the guys who stood in front and made it their personal office through the '80s.

"Sometimes it's not the easiest job but for me, that's the only way it was going to happen for me," he said. "I played with a lot of good players who got me pucks in front of the net and I was able to finish them off."

Andreychuk had a 12-year wait to get selected and said he was thankful for former Toronto teammate Doug Gilmour stumping for his candidacy. And he said he had a good cry last week at a reunion with his 2004 Stanley Cup championship teammates in Tampa Bay, who were as emotional as he was in discussing this weekend.

"They really were," said Andreychuk, now a community development vice president for the Lightning. "I thanked them for what they did, putting me over the top and what it meant. Lots of tears. I think eventually I knew it would happen. I just didn't know when. There's 600 goals on the resume. It's got to happen eventually."

Andreychuk's induction means every 600-goal scorer in the NHL will now be in the Hall.

"I eventually knew it was going to happen," he said. "And the one thing I'm happiest about the most is that my parents will be here this weekend. That was the most important thing."

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