As a kid, Craig Adams wanted the same thing most young hockey players want: to experience playing in just one National Hockey League game.
“I had the same mindset, give me one NHL game and I’ll die happy,” Adams said.
Not only did Adams achieve playing in that one game, he played in 951 in the regular season and 106 contests in the playoffs over the course of a 14-year career that is highlighted by two Stanley Cup championships.
On Tuesday afternoon, Adams, 38, officially announced his retirement.
“I have a lot of good memories of being with the guys, practicing together, traveling together, competing together. There were lots of good times,” Adams said. “I feel incredibly lucky to play as long as I did. A lot of things went into that. There was a lot of luck involved, timing, avoiding injury, being at the right place in the right time.”
Adams, who is working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Boston, played in 453 games for the Pens in his final six-plus seasons. He is the Pens’ all-time record holder for consecutive games played at 319. He was a key member of the team’s penalty kill unit and a locker room leader.
And for Adams, Pittsburgh will always be a special place.
“Pittsburgh was our home for six years and have a ton of great memories, lots of great friends there,” Adams said. “It’ll always be a special place for my family. It was a huge part of my career.”
Adams had a lot of fortune and help throughout his NHL career. But none was greater than the support of his family – wife Anne, son Rhys and daughters Francesca and Lucia.
“They were a big part of everything. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Adams said.
And there were many other people that helped Adams along the way.
“Jim Rutherford was the GM that gave me my first shot. Paul Maurice was my first coach,” Adams said. “Tony Granato was a guy that I became very close with and a guy that I had a lot of fun with, someone I consider a friend.”
Adams certainly enjoyed a fruitful career. He was the first and only NHL player born in Seria, Brunei – his father was working on the island at that time, though Adams was raised in Calgary. Adams was the second-to-last ever pick of the Hartford Whalers (223rd overall in 1996). He played four seasons of college hockey at Harvard from 1995-99. Adams even played one season overseas for HC Milano in Italy during the 2004-05 lockout season. And, of course, there are those two Stanley Cup rings (Carolina – 2006; Pittsburgh – 2009).
Of all the memories and experiences that he’s had, Adams cherishes winning competing for a championship most of all.
“For a guy like me, team accomplishments are everything,” Adams said. “My best memories and the most enjoyable time to play and games were the playoff games. They mean so much and the intensity is really high. The level of play goes up. Those are the times that you try to savor because those are fun games to play in.”