February 03, 2009

Adam Graves Tribute Tonight

The New York Rangers are honouring Adam Graves tonight. Graves was one of the most popular sports figures in all of New York at the time, and with good reason.

In an era when the NHL was being dominated by hockey's version of globalization, Adam Graves was very much the traditional Canadian hockey player.

"He's very physical, he will do anything to get his team geared up," said one NHL coach. "He plays the game every inch of that ice. He wants to command, and he commands a lot of respect out there. He's a total player. He's a spark. He's an inspiration. There's an MVP guy, let me tell you. He's just an outstanding player and an outstanding person."

"Adam was always the type of kid you wanted to make it," Colin Campbell, his former coach said. "He is conscientious, nice, hard-working, respectful. And usually those guys don't make it. Adam is the milk-drinker who goes through hell for you."

He played a rugged, aggressive game of hockey, with a mean streak that enhanced his talent and inspired his teammates. He parked his often bruised body in front of the net, especially when playing on the power play. Graves was a willing fighter, often known as Mark Messier's bodyguard, both in Edmonton and later New York. Kevin Lowe, teammate of both in both cities, called Graves "the sheriff" for his willingness to defend fellow Rangers.

Here's the full Adam Graves biography. Here is the New York Rangers website tribute.


The Puck Stops Here said...

Graves was one of the most popular sports figures in all of New York at the time, and with good reason.

I would have to disagree with the *good reason* part. In a city as big as New York with as many sports teams as New York, a player who has no realistic shot at the Hockey Hall of Fame should not be one of the most popular atheletes. He ight be a nice guy, but hockey has produced several better athletes in New York - not to mention the other sports there.

He should be lost well behind Patrick Ewing, Don Mattingly, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Keith Hernandez, Eli Manning, Bret Favre, Joe Namath etc. And that list only scratches the surface.

NHL alone offers Jaromir Jagr, Brian Leetch, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Mike Richter etc who were much better players than Adam Graves.

Len said...

I disagree entirely with The Puck Stops Here when he said Graves "should not be one of the most popular atheletes [sic]". When a player who isn't the most skilled and isn't at the top of the score sheet achieves that kind of status, it isn't because of hype or some random fluke. There *was* a good reason: fans appreciated the integrity of his play and his immense dedication to his team and to the game of hockey. That resonates deeply with fans who likewise invest so much emotion into their favorite team - fans who are living and dying with every goal scored for and against, and they will give their undying devotion to the players that spill their blood, sweat, and tears to bring home the win. Why shouldn't fans revere this kind of player?

It doesn't mean they appreciate the Brian Leetches or Mike Richters any less. It doesn't take away from their appreciation of the greats.

Likely Graves will be forgotten, and that is the way of things. I think the appreciation of these kind of players dies with the generation that loved them. The next generation have no way to appreciate those players - there are no highlight reels, and statistics do not capture their intangible qualities.

That's why an article like this is so important.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there...everything from the ceremony to the speech Graves made was incredible! The best part of the speech was when the announcer said toward the end that Graves will forever at MSG!! Even if he wasn't the best player, he played a vital role in the community and on the ice and is a hero to thousands.

Check it out: Adam Graves Night