It would be nice if the rapid development of center Luke Adam
was an indication of the continuing progress of Newfoundland hockey. The island province has been sending better and better players to the NHL in recent years.
Newfoundlanders Dan Cleary
, Michael Ryder
, Ryane Clowe
, Pascal Pelletier
, Dan LaCosta, Ted Purcell and Jason King
all played in the NHL this season, and Luke and Acadie-Bathurst goalie Nicholas Champion -- the No. 26-ranked North American goaltender -- are eligible for the 2008 Entry Draft.
Adam, who moved up from the No. 66-ranked North American skater in January to No. 44 in the final Central Scouting chart, is the son of Ontarian Russ Adam, a fine hockey player in the 1980s who played on two Kitchener Rangers teams that were Memorial Cup runners-up and with the Fort Wayne Komets when they were runner-up in 1986 for the Turner Cup.
Russ Adam, who was a seventh-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs
in 1980, played eight NHL games with the Leafs during the 1982-83 season. He ended his professional career after the Turner Cup bid and accepted an offer to play senior hockey in Newfoundland.
"My dad was a pro player who was drafted by Toronto," Luke Adam
said. "He ended his career playing senior hockey in St. John's and that's where he met my mom. He's from Windsor, Ontario, but he stayed on in Newfoundland and later was Doug Shedden's assistant coach for the St. John's Maple Leafs in the American Hockey League."
has a lot of respect and admiration for his father and soaked up all the hockey knowledge that he could.
"In Newfoundland, your school district determines which minor hockey organization you join, so I played with the Avalon Celtics until I was 14," Adam said. "Then I played with the St. John's midget AAA team and got drafted in the first round by the St. John's Fog Devils of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. I think that there have only been three or four other Newfoundland kids who went in the first round of the QMJHL draft.
"Newfoundland hockey is getting better and better because of the coaching. It's been great to have Dad at home, giving me pointers. He's always been there for me. He has given me more motivation and a lot of help. I don't think I'd be where I am today without the help of my parents. I also got very good coaching in bantams from Steve Power and in midgets from Rick Babstock.
"I give a lot of credit to past coaches and past mentors who have helped me. The whole part of maturing is picking out bits and pieces and putting it together to become your own person."
The knock on Newfoundland hockey players always has been lack of foot speed, and in some cases, a failure to put in the hard work necessary to make and stay in the NHL. Adam says that is changing.
"There are definitely great skaters on the island," Adam said. "A good example is Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks
. People tell me he wasn't a great skater in juniors. I work out with him in the summer and I've never seen anyone work that hard. It's a great experience for me to be able to learn from a guy like that, when you see where he is and how far he has come. To see him develop that much, it makes me realize that if you want it bad enough, you can do it."
Clowe isn't Adam's only role model. Years ago, he settled on one of the all-time greats.
was the best," Adam said. "I grew up a Red Wings fan because my dad is from Windsor and I would stay with my grandparents for a month every summer. I just fell in love with Steve's way of playing and everything he did, on or off the ice. I started wearing his number (19) in peewees and I still wear it. I always tried to pick up things from his game when I was watching. He was the best leader I ever saw play the game.
"I'm always trying to pick up on leadership and character qualities. I watch games, listen to interviews and try to pick up tips."
It must be working. Adam led the Fog Devils in scoring and finished plus-9.
"I was really pleased with my year," Adam said. "My first year I had only six goals and 15 points; this year, I led the team with 36 goals and 66 points. More than that, I was really happy with my play. I matured a lot as a person and a player. For that, I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches -- Real Paiement
, Darryl Williams
and Ed O'Brien."
“Luke has really improved over the season," said NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau. "He is a big player (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) and sometimes big guys take longer to grow into their skating. The upside on Luke is pretty high. He plays big, and he can score."
Many flowers that flourish in one area wilt in another. Adam will be facing a big test this year because the Fog Devils were sold and will be moving to the Montreal suburb of Verdun.
"Actually, I'm looking forward to it," Adam said. "At first I thought the move was disappointing because I'm having fun as a hometown kid playing juniors and I won't be playing in front of friends and family anymore. But I matured during the season and I'm ready to make the move and I'm excited to be playing hockey in Montreal next season."