Who knows how many young players that lace up ice skates dream, at least once, of playing in the NHL. Likely, every one of them. But, as we know, most drift off, eventually, toward other pursuits. Relatively few have the talent and drive to advance to hockey’s professional ranks. Even fewer can tap into that reserve of dedication and desire and create a career.
Those rare few that do make it to the upper echelons of the sport know better than to take their good fortune for granted. Adam Hall
is about to undertake his eighth season in the NHL and second as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The gritty Lightning forward appeared in 74 games for the Bolts last season, scoring five goals and five assists, while playing with a tear in his abdominal muscle for at least the final two months of the campaign. Now, after some off-season surgery, Hall is back to 100%.
“I’m feeling amazing,” Hall explained. “I’m actually making a lot more gains in the gym and am on the right track more than I have in previous summers, so that’s really encouraging.”
Hall’s off-season has been spent at his home in East Lansing, Michigan, nearby to Michigan State University where he played collegiate hockey for four seasons, serving as the team captain in his senior year.
It hasn’t been a glamorous off-season, and save for two brief family visits, the summer has just been weeks of hard work. But that’s the way Hall likes it. Hard work and some time for family. That’s what Hall knows best.
“East Lansing is just a nice, relaxing place to train in the summer,” Hall explained. “There’s always a high level of players that come back here in the summer and they’re great character guys. Really great guys to skate and train with.”
Players like Andrew Hutchinson, Hall’s former teammate in Tampa and now a member of the Dallas Stars. Also Mike Weaver, a defenseman with the St. Louis Blues, Jim Slater, a forward with the Atlanta Thrashers and David Booth, last season’s leading goal scorer on the Florida Panthers. All Michigan State guys too.
Also dropping in are Ryan Miller, the goaltender with the Sabres and Shawn Horcoff, the high-scoring center with the Edmonton Oilers.
“They’re all fun guys to be around,” Hall said, “They’re really hard working guys to train with, too.”
But could any of them work any harder than Hall?
During the first half of the summer Hall has focused on strength, power and quickness, equally dividing his time between the weight room, where he rigorously
follows the program outlined for him by the Lightning’s strength coaches, and the track, where he runs countless wind sprints.
The latter half of the summer is when Hall returns to the ice and starts working on some specific hockey skills.
“This summer, my focus has been on shooting accuracy, passing accuracy and stick handling,” Hall explained. “You can never be too good at one thing so you’ve always got to push yourself to try and improve in several areas.”
Beyond the workouts, there have been a few nights out to catch a movie and two or three rounds of golf, but that’s about all that has pulled him away from the gym, track or the ice.
Except, that is, for the two weekends that were reserved for catching up with family. Two big family reunions – each packed with relatives he needed to catch up with.
“My mother’s side of the family got together July 4th weekend at a cabin up north in Michigan,” Hall recalled. “We relaxed, talked and watched the fireworks over the lake.”
The second family reunion was held in a suburb of Detroit.
“Last weekend it was my dad’s side of the family,” Hall continued. “It’s nice to see how everyone is doing. You keep in touch that way. There’s nothing like being with family.”
Apart from, maybe, playing in the NHL for as long as possible. If hard work and dedication are the keys to that, Adam Hall
will be around the league for a long time to come.