TORONTO – Now that Kevyn Adams has decided to move on from the NHL, he figures the toughest moments of his professional hockey career will end up being the most valuable.
While nothing tops getting to lift the Stanley Cup in 2006, that experience isn’t the one he’ll draw on most in his new role as a partner with 02K Worldwide Management Group.
Adams has no regrets about a playing career that officially ended this week at age 34. Instead, he’s excited to share everything he’s learned with the young guys his agency represents.
“As a player, I did everything I could ask for and more – and some things that weren’t fun,” said Adams. “I got traded a bunch of times. I got sent to the minors and had to fight my way back up. I lost a Cup final before I won a Cup final. I was put on waivers.
“I really experienced a wide range of what a player can go through. Some parts weren’t fun, but now it’s a huge asset to what I’m going to bring to these guys.”
At 02K, he joins former college teammates Matt Oates and Eustace King. The three played together at Miami of Ohio more than a decade ago and have remained friends ever since.
Adams hopes to specialize in athlete development with the agency, which currently represents about 20 players including Raffi Torres, Kevin Weekes and youngsters T.J. Oshie and Tyler Ennis.
The younger players stand to benefit the most from his experience.
Ennis, for example, won a gold medal with Canada at the recent world junior championship and is a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres. The future looks extremely bright for the Medicine Hat Tigers forward, but there’s bound to be a few bumps along the road.
During those periods, Adams will be there to offer support and guidance.
“No one walks on the ice their first day and has the next 15 years of just greatness,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of adversity.
“Here’s a kid that I can sit down with and say, ‘I’ve done this.’ The players are probably going to be hard-pressed to ask me something I didn’t go through.”
Adams spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, but was limited to 27 games because of a serious knee injury. He attended the team’s training camp in September before getting released on the eve of the season.
It was then that he first started coming to grips with the fact his career might be over.
“The music stops eventually and the more prepared you are to move on to the next phase, the better off you’ll be,” said Adams.
One of the benefits that comes with the new role is that he and wife Stacey are able to settle in his native Buffalo with their three children. Adams played for six different NHL teams over his career while also spending some time in the minors and part of the lockout season in Germany.
That’s a lot of moving around.
The closest thing to stability came during five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. Adams was part of both Carolina teams that appeared in the Stanley Cup final, including the championship squad in 2006. One of the toughest experiences of his career was getting traded away in January 2007.
“I spent good quality years in Carolina, I was an assistant captain there and part of something really special,” said Adams. “When I got traded to Phoenix, that one stung a little bit.”
Any hurt has long since subsided.
Adams seems genuinely enthused about his new job, noting that he’s quickly gone from an old man in one profession to a young one in another. King figures the energy and experience that Adams brings will only help the agency as it continues to grow.
“Players really don’t know how hard it is to play in the National Hockey League,” said King. “It’s hard. Guys are forcing themselves to try to make that transition earlier and quicker and faster now. They’re trying to be like the Kanes, the Gagners.
“If you’re not that player, there’s other things you need to do as far as working.”
Fortunately for the clients of 02K, Adams is now just a phone call away.
A former first-round draft pick himself, he knows firsthand that the life of a professional athlete isn’t always as glamorous as it looks to those on the outside. Like any job, there’s bound to be some bad days.
“Everyone’s saying, ‘oh you’re playing in the NHL – it’s great,”‘ said Adams. “And it is.
“But when you go to the rink and you got yelled at the night before or you got scratched or you got six minutes of ice time – there’s a lot of things these guys deal with on a day-to-day basis that I think we can help them with and make a difference in their careers.”