First and foremost, congratulations on your long tenured hockey career. I had the pleasure of meeting you when you came to Norfolk during the 2010-2011 season.
I quickly noticed how your warrior and team-first mindset helped propel you into a leadership position under the tutelage of first-year head coach Jon Cooper. I think your blue-collar playing style meshed with the blue-collar town that is Norfolk. No matter; win or lose; you always made time for fans in the parking garage at Scope.
You were dubbed with the nickname, “Jesus Angelidis” and took it in stride. After mulling it over, I had posters made, held them up during warm-ups and you would give them a quick stick tap during line rushes. It became a routine as you would give me a nod and tap it game after game.
After losing to the Penguins in the first round that year, I thought to myself, “Angelidis has to re-sign. He put up career-high numbers; Steve Yzerman has to re-sign him.” When the news broke you were coming back to Norfolk for the 2011-2012 season I was ecstatic. My close friend, Charlene, posted the story on my Facebook wall. My jaw dropped!
We all know how the fairy tale season ended in 2012, but you were named the captain. This time you had your finger on the pulse of the team and the city. I remember the night you scored your first NHL goal on your first shot against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oddly enough, the Admirals were playing at Scope. I was sitting in my seat during an intermission and the jumbotron flashed to a replay of you scoring your first NHL goal. After high fiving my friends I yelled, “Don’t come back!”
The day after you got reassigned to Norfolk the team had a game and I rushed to get pictures of your NHL goal celebration. We talked a million times that year, but I was shaking when I handed them to you to sign, not because I was scared, but because I was genuinely happy for you!
What can I say about winning 28 in a row and the Calder Cup? It was simply a great ride that I was honored to witness. The heartbreaker was that Tampa Bay was relocating their AHL affiliate to Syracuse. Hockey wouldn’t be the same without Angelidis in an Admirals’ sweater!
Soon after the season, my hockey journalism career was starting to take off and I reached out to you to link up for a story. Whenever you came back to Norfolk, I made sure to stop by the visitors’ locker room and interview you, although half the time you asked me about life and we would go off topic. At that time, you had kids and I remember telling you back in 2014 that I was about to become a dad, you said jokingly, “No more sleep!” That was so true! You cared. You remembered the fans in Norfolk and that meant a lot to us.
When you and Tampa went separate ways in 2016, Admirals fans followed you in Stockton. When you went to Bolzano, we followed you. Admiral fans are faithful to former players, many use the term “Ads Family” or “Once an Admiral always an Admiral.” That phrase still rings true to this day. Stick taps to you for leaving a long-lasting impression on Admiral fans everywhere.
Below are some thank you notes from Admirals fans:
I’m not quite sure you fully know the impact you had on the Hampton Roads area. You will forever be my favorite captain. Thank you so much for all that you did. Not only for hockey in our area, but for the fans. Best of luck in the rest of your hockey ventures!
– Charlene Mara
Thank you for everything you did to lead the best team in all of hockey to Norfolk’s first Calder Cup!! Congratulations on your retirement and your future endeavors with the Tampa organization!
– Veronica Haran Norfolk Admirals Booster Club President
I want to start off by saying congratulations. You have earned this new role and I wish you the most success as you transition into pro scouting. During your time in Norfolk, you were a true leader on and off the ice. As a writer, I had the luxury of seeing both the professional and personal side of you and you truly carried yourself in such a way that it was an inspiration. The passion you carried on the ice and the leadership in the room was absolutely key to the incredible Calder Cup run of 2012. Some nights were rough, but you never once let that get in the way of always making time for your fans. Especially the younger ones who would wait for you game after game. Thank you for leaving that mark in Norfolk and the so many lives you touched. You were always a true professional but most importantly a great person and for that, thank you.
– Brad Johnson former writer for Hockey’s Future and AHL Report