Kevyn Adams, former NHL player and Miami University ’96 graduate, talks with sports editor Grace Remington about his favorite Uptown bar, the origin of the “Brotherhood” and his advice to the current hockey team.
Adams had an 11-year playing career in the NHL, in which he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. Drafted 25th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Adams helped the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup in 2005-06.
After his playing stint, Adams worked with the Buffalo Sabres as a player development coach for two years and an assistant coach for two years.
Adams played hockey at Miami from 1992-96, where he graduated as the school’s third-highest scoring player in team history and was inducted into the RedHawks’ Hall of Fame in 2012.
He now serves as the vice president and director of HARBORCENTER Academy of Hockey in Buffalo, N.Y.
Which dorm did you live in while at Miami?
My first year I was in Stanton Hall, over on South quad. Spent a year there, then spent the next three years at Hepburn Hall. I stayed on campus all four years – it was more common back then for hockey players on scholarship.
What’s one of your best or craziest Stanton Hall or Hepburn Hall stories?
I think both have neat memories. For me as a freshman, I was young, I actually was 17 turning 18, and a lot of the hockey players are older when they come in. I actually got to be really good friends with all the students on my floor, and that was something totally separate from hockey. So I’d say some of my memories, especially after the season ended, were just kinda being a normal student, hanging out with different people. That was really cool.
Then as we moved over to Hepburn, a lot of athletes were in that dorm. And what I liked about it was that it seemed like there was a bond over there. All of us were on the same page, whether it was football players, or basketball players or hockey players – you knew there were games at certain times, and you focused on what needed to be focused on during the season. I thought it was kinda cool to have that bond with everybody.
What about your favorite spot uptown?
You know, it’s changed so much. I would have to say – back then, it was called the Saloon. It was downstairs underneath 45 [East bar]. If you go down those stairs, there was this place called the Saloon, and that was kinda the hangout. So probably when I was Uptown with the hockey guys, that’s where we spent the most time.
You played 1992-96 at Miami, which means you played with current head coach Rico Blasi for a few years. Fans know him now as a good coach, and media members know him as a nice, but serious guy – what was he like as a student and player?
That’s a good question. I’ll say this, I’m not surprised he’s gone into coaching and has had the success that he’s had. Even when we played together at Miami, he was a student of the game. It’s the path that I almost would’ve expected for Rico. Rico was a junior when I was a freshman, and he was one of the guys that took care of me. I was a young freshman coming in, I was a true freshman, and a lot of the times, freshmen are 20 or 21 years old coming in to the team. I was this young, wide-eyed kid, and Rico was really good to me. He and Chris Bergeron really took me under their wing, and Rico was always the guy to grab me and say hey let’s go to lunch or dinner. And he pushed me on the ice. He was one of those players that saw potential in me as a teammate, so he pushed me in practice to get better. So I have so much respect for Rico. I think he was one of those guys who was a heck of a hockey player – a very, very good player. But I say this – he was destined to be a coach. He just had that ability from a young age.
Do you have a good Rico story or something we wouldn’t expect about him?
Well, Rico is one of those guys who was always there and part of the team stuff, but he was never the guy that was leading the charge, he was always pretty serious and button-upped. So I don’t know if there’s a particular Rico story that jumps out at me. But I will say this – Rico was always one of those guys that had the respect of all his teammates and always did things the right way. And he made an impression on me at a young age.
When John Harbaugh and Ben Roethlisberger visited Miami last year, they joked about how they’d always meet each other on the field after games and talk about Miami. When you were playing did you ever have moments like that with former Miami players?
Absolutely, no question. The hockey world is very small, in terms of in general, everybody kinda knows everybody. There’s kinda a fraternity among the hockey world. To take it a step further, there’s a really strong connection and appreciation for the players that have gone to Miami and the respect that we all have for each other and the Brotherhood that’s always talked about. So absolutely, when I played against or with a player, whether he was older or younger. And still to this day, when I see players that are young kids at Miami or coming out of Miami, it’s an extra few minutes chatting about just whatever and what might be. And especially, the guys I played with at Miami, whether it was when I was a freshman and they were a senior or guys in my class that I grew up with, those are special memories. When we do get together, it’s a lot of laughs and a lot of good times. When I was at Miami, that’s when it started to turn the program to the next level, and it’s all those players from that year that take great pride in that. The success that Miami’s had since is so awesome to see. There was a lot of work done that year and the years before to help start that process.
You mentioned the Brotherhood – was the team actually called that back then?
You know what, what’s kinda neat about the whole Brotherhood concept is that the team of my freshman year – so 1992 – came up with that slogan, and it’s evolved through the years into something that’s talked about a lot. It gets a lot of attention. But really, the idea behind it with the team was we’re in this together, that it’s bigger than just me or just another guy on the team, and it’s bigger than the coaches. It’s about something special and doing it together. And then once you’ve gone through these times together, it’s there for life. You hand the torch to the next kid that comes along, and say you’re part of something special. And that’s kinda the idea of it. And I’ll tell you, to this day I’m checking the games every Friday and Saturday night on the internet, I’m getting updates online, I’m reading. It’s really important to me what goes on at that program – the pride I take in that team in what goes on on and off the ice.
So when you guys were coming up with the name Brotherhood, was this something the coaches asked you to do or was it all the players?
It was more the players. It was kinda a meeting where we were just throwing out ideas – how do we want to do and who do we want to be. And somewhere along the lines, this came up and seemed to fit. And when you look at it, it’s really what it is. Brotherhood is something you’re buying into, it’s part of a family. You take care of each other on the ice, you take care of each other off the ice. You go to battle together, you work extremely hard for each other. That’s the concept and the idea. So it’s something that came up kinda organically as a group in a team setting. And 20 years later, it is what it is today.
Was there any coach or player at Miami whose influence carried over to your professional career?
Oh, absolutely. I think Chris Bergeron to me is the No. 1 biggest influence on my career while I was at Miami and we always stayed close friends. They assigned big brothers at the time, and he was a senior when I was a freshman. He was the captain. He and I are still close today. We talk regularly. We played against each other when I was in the minors. When he was coaching, I was in Bowling Green and having great success. He is a big influence on me in a positive way.
George Gwozdecky was a big influence on me. He ultimately was the one who took a chance on a 17-year-old American that no one had ever heard of and gave me that opportunity to come in and show what I can do.
The current team is in a bit of a rough spot. After a 15-win season, they play at Duluth in the conference postseason, and they haven’t fared well against them this year. If you could go to the locker room in Goggin this week and give them some advice, what would you say?
I would say first of all, enjoy the moment. It’s a special time in your life, whether you go on to play in the NHL, or as a senior, you play your last game and it’s the end of your career and you get a job in the real world. Either way, it’s a special time in your life. Enjoy that. I would also say the whole point of being at Miami is about being a good teammate and being a good person and developing the best you can. So when you go out and play teams, whether you’re the underdog or not, you have 20 brothers that are gonna go to battle with you. And you can gain a lot of confidence from that. That’s something that is very important when I look at the team. Whether they win or not this weekend, it’s about how they prepare and the mindset that they go into those games with. Not only is it the team on the ice, but there’s a ton of alumni that are with them as well.
Flashback is a series of stories about notable Miami University alumni. We revisit their time as students at Miami and look at the paths they have taken since graduating. Have an idea for the next flashback? Send us a tip at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.