Andy Delmore may not be a legendary defenseman like Bobby Orr or Larry Murphy, but he is a player many will never forget. The Philadelphia Flyers remember Delmore from his overtime game-winner against their state-rivals in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Nashville Predators praise Delmore for jump-starting the franchise in its early days.
The native of Windsor, Ontario tied Sergei Gonchar and Nicklas Lidstrom for most goals scored by a defenseman (18) in 2002-3 with the Predators, but possessed a -17 rating. Let’s overlook that for the time being and praise the goal-scoring abilities.
In 283 career NHL games, Delmore amassed 43 goals, 58 assists with the Flyers, Predators, Buffalo Sabres, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Delmore’s playing career may be over, but he is not away from the game. The 37-year-old has returned to the Sarnia Sting from his junior days and is currently assistant coach of the OHL club.
The Hockey Writers caught up with Delmore and discussed his playing career in Philadelphia and Nashville among other things.
The Hockey Writers: In 1997, you went undrafted. Can you explain how you felt after the draft when you weren’t selected? Was there disappointment and did it motivate you to become better?
Andy Delmore: It was a very disappointing day, but right after that I instantly had a chip on my shoulder just to be a better player and to prove to the teams that you missed out. I had the work ethic to prove everyone wrong and prove to myself I could play.
THW: What do you think made Philadelphia give you a chance in their organization?
Delmore: I was lucky enough that a few guys on [Sarnia] were drafted by Philadelphia. [Scouts] were around quite a bit during that season. Within scouting their guys they’ve already drafted, they saw something they liked.
THW: You scored the game-winning overtime goal for the Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh that ultimately gave your team their confidence back. Do you look back and reflect on the significance of that goal?
Delmore: You know something, I can still look back to this day and say that’s probably the biggest goal I’ve scored. Ever.
THW: Describe the goal in your eyes.
Delmore: We were going up on a 2-on-2 rush and I just jumped past my guy in the neutral zone. I got over the blue-line and was screaming at the top of my lungs to Keith Jones to pass it. He flipped it over. To be honest, I didn’t really look up when I got it. I just said either way I’m shooting it when I get it. So I got it on my stick, on my backhand, and just fired.
THW: That’s what goal-scorers do. They don’t exactly aim. They just shoot.
Delmore: You can look at the video and my head is not even up.
THW: Then in 2001 Nashville picked you up. How was it playing in a non-traditional market where hockey was just getting popular in that area?
Delmore: It was different coming from Philly, which a lot of people would consider one of the top US markets. Everyone knows the Philly fan-base not just from hockey, but throughout sports. It is pretty big. Going to Nashville was a little bit different. We had a real hard-working team and a great coach in Barry Trotz. We just came to work everyday. We didn’t get the wins we always wanted, but played hard for sure.
THW: During the 2002-3 season, you finished the year tied for scoring for defensemen with Sergei Gonchar and Niklas Lidstrom. Do you take pride in that achievement especially as underrated of a scorer you were?
Delmore: It’s funny, I looked up on that not too long at my parents’ house. I looked across the stat board and the only thing that was different was I was -20 and they were +20 (laughs). It is nice to be meshing with those guys, but on the other hand those guys were extremely phenomenal hockey players.
THW: Not too many players are traded twice on one day. Take me through that experience on March 9, 2004 when Buffalo and San Jose traded you.
Delmore: I almost didn’t know about the other one in-between. I just knew I was going to Boston. I went to San Jose first, then San Jose to Boston. I really didn’t know that until a few days after.
THW: When you look back at your career, what is one thing you wish you could have changed or improved?
Delmore: My wife asks me this all the time. I wouldn’t change anything. And it was just the way it went. If there were things I’d like to improve on, I’d say everything. Every part of my game, I wish I could be better. On the other hand, I wouldn’t change anything. It was a great run. We all wish things would’ve lasted longer, but it wasn’t in the cards.
THW: You’ve played in Germany, Croatia, Italy and Norway throughout your career. Which was the best experience and why?
Delmore: All of them were really good, but I remember Italy because I lived 20 minutes up a mountain. It was a different living [area] and it was just a little town on top of a mountain. We had a ski hill 2 minutes away. Just a beautiful, relaxing place for you and your family to play hockey and live.
THW: Who was your favorite player to be paired with on defense?
Delmore: There was 2 of them actually. John Stevens was a great influence on me. And the other one would be Luke Richardson.
THW: If you could go back in time and drop the gloves with one person in your career, who would it be and why?
Delmore: Darcy Tucker.
THW: Who’s the most exciting player to watch when looking at today’s NHL?
Delmore: Patrick Kane. His skill level is exciting to watch. He scores great goals and is a lot of fun to watch.
THW: Now you are an assistant coach on the Sarnia Sting. Do you ever have the urge to lace up the skates and get on the ice while a game is going on?
Delmore: Every game I do.
THW: Do you see anyone coming up in Sarnia, who is as good as Nail Yakupov?
Delmore: The kid who just got drafted from our team Nikolay Goldobin in the first round by San Jose. He is a phenomenal player.