Of the many attributes Adam Graves brought with him to the Rangers for 10 seasons, one that stood out was his passion to be in the lineup on a nightly basis, and to not let his teammates and the fans down, even when he was injured and racked with pain.
Graves played in 772 regular season games -- ninth on the Rangers’ all-time list. He missed only 16 matches in 10 seasons on Broadway---one in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign, 10 in 1997-98, and five in 1999-2000. That means Graves played in every regular season-contest for the Rangers in seven of his 10 seasons, which is a fairly remarkable feat.
Not one to play a passive style, Graves worked the corners, threw checks with abandon, took a beating from opposing defensemen while camped out in front their goal, and was a willing participant to throw down the gloves and fight when needed.
A solid 6-feet tall and 205 pounds, Graves was always in top physical condition, with a powerful trunk and strength on his skates. But the wear and tear of his style of play took a toll on his body. In particular his back screamed in pain from the constant abuse it would take.
Yet there was Graves game after game lacing up the skates and hitting the ice with his teammates. Driven to never let his teammates, coaches, and the fans down, Graves would only sit out when he almost could not bend over to tie his skates due to the pain in his back.
“It was such an honor to put that jersey on and represent the New York Rangers,” explains Graves. “I felt obligated to my best each and every night, no matter what.”
Graves did that and much, much more. He is currently ranked third on the team’s all-time list with 280 goals and 10th with 507 points. His 810 penalty minutes are eighth most in franchise history.
And in the playoffs, Graves’ durability and success were also impressive. He is tied for ninth in games played with 68, ranks third in goals with 28, and is tied for tenth in points with 44. Most importantly he helped the Rangers capture the Stanley Cup in 1994.
For his dedication and commitment to the game he loved so much, Graves was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy following the 2000-01 season.
The same year that his father and infant son passed away, and playing through back pain, Graves appeared in all 82 games for the Rangers, deservedly winning the trophy which is given annually to “the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
The Masterton was a fitting tribute to Adam Graves in his final year as a member of the New York Rangers.