Note: This article has been sponsored by HarborCenter.
It wasn’t until he was 18 years old and he got to meet Pat LaFontaine that Kevyn Adams rubbed shoulders with an NHL superstar.
Adams had attended hockey schools as a kid, but there were never any NHL instructors present. So as the 40-year-old ex-NHLer prepares to tackle the responsibility of imparting his experience and influence on young hockey players at the newly constructed HarborCenter in Buffalo, it is a responsibility he takes seriously.
“I just had that conversation with my mother the other day and she said, ‘Do you remember when you were a kid how excited you would have been to have an opportunity like this to work with an NHL player?’ and the truth is, it is pretty special,” said Adams, the director of the Academy of Hockey at HarborCenter.
HarborCenter, which officially opens Oct. 31 and will be home to the Buffalo Junior Sabres program as well as Canisius College men’s Div. I hockey team, is a hockey and entertainment complex with two NHL-sized rinks, six 1,000-square-foot dressing rooms, a sports bar and restaurant and a two-story Tim Horton’s Coffee and Bake Shop. Buffalo mayor Byron Brown will unveil a statue of former Sabres defenseman Tim Horton on the weekend.
Adams, a defensive specialist who played 540 games in the NHL scoring 59 goals and 136 points with a handful of teams, spent two years as the development coach with the Buffalo Sabres upon retiring as a player and then two more years as coach Lindy Ruff’s assistant before returning to school to complete his MBA. He was approached by Sabres owner Terry Pegula with the notion of building HarborCenter and has spent the past year and a half hiring staff and preparing for the opening of the facility.
Although he was born in Washington, D.C., Adams grew up in Buffalo and is pumped to be able to give back to the community he cherishes.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity to have the chance, with the Pegulas' backing, to raise the level of hockey in Western New York and beyond,” Adams said.
Adams added he has always been passionate about player development and teaching as well as building on the business side. He said his philosophy is simple: “This game is about having fun; it’s at the core of everything we do. It’s about teaching players and coaches to love the game.”
Adams believes HarborCenter will become a destination site for players and teams from all over the United States and Canada. He said there are already plans in place for 20 tournaments starting Halloween weekend and running right through the end of hockey season for all levels of player, male and female.
The team Adams assembled to help run the Academy of Hockey includes former NHL goalie Martin Biron, who will be the director of goaltending, and another former NHL forward, Adam Mair. The staff will also include up to 10 instructors who either coached college hockey or played at a high level.
Adams will take a holistic approach to player development that will be all-encompassing from on-ice skill development to off-ice workouts with video as a teaching tool. There will be a small player-to-coach ratio.
“We want players," Adams said, "from the young ones right up to NHL players, to come here and have a great experience.”