When those who know Adam Graves are asked questions about him, inevitably they will choose to discuss his character and leadership as much, if not more so, than his impressive on-ice achievements.
|Adam Graves credits his father (left) for instlling in him the values that led to his winning the King Clancy Award and Masterton Trophy during his NHL career. |
So few athletes in any sport have been regarded as highly for the type of person they are than Graves. And as such, it is no surprise that the awards Graves earned over his 15-year career in the National Hockey League revolve around his character, leadership, and off-ice contributions in the community.
In June of 1994, shortly after he helped the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup Championship in 54 years, Graves was named as the recipient of the King Clancy Trophy. Awarded yearly to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice along with making humanitarian contributions to his community, the King Clancy Trophy seems created exactly for someone like Graves.
“I wake up and try to treat every day as an opportunity,” says Graves. “As an athlete, an athlete in New York City, and as a New York Ranger, it is a privilege to have access to so many great people and to be able to learn from them and, perhaps, put a smile on their face. That’s the way I have always looked at my role as an athlete.”
Graves was a respected leader with the Rangers, learning from one of the vaunted captains in the history of all sports, Mark Messier. Equally adept at sticking up for teammates and leading by example on the ice as he was for sincere accountability off the ice, Graves was always considered a great teammate and friend to anyone he shared a locker room with.
Out in the community, in particular working with underprivileged children, Graves shined just as much. Graves spent countless hours during his playing days---and continues to do so in his post-playing career---trying to make the lives of each and every person he comes in contact with better. His genuine caring for those he meets, and respect for people from all walks of life, stands out as much as all his goals, points, trophies, and Stanley Cup rings.
“I have always found that I am fortunate enough to have this unique opportunity to grow as a person myself because of all the great people I meet every day,” says Graves.
His tireless work in the community earned Graves another honor in 2000 when he was awarded the NHL Foundation Player Award. The award is presented annually to the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey---commitment, perseverance, and teamwork---to enrich the lives of people in his community. That Graves was selected for this particular honor came as no surprise, and it was a much-deserved award for his extraordinary efforts on behalf of others.
In the spring of 2001, after playing his final season with the Rangers, Graves was awarded the prestigious Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given each year to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
That he won the award following a season in which he scored only ten goals probably shows one of the best examples of the spirit of the man himself. Graves played through the grief of not only his father’s death, but his infant son Jaxon’s, as well. Despite the tremendous feeling of loss, Graves still battled through all 82 games on the Rangers’ schedule during the 2000-01 campaign.
Graves was extremely close to his father, Henry, who was an Ontario policeman when young Adam was growing up. And winning the Masterton Trophy was as much about father as it was son.
“Winning that award was a way to recognize who my true hero was, and that will always be my father,” explains Graves. “It was a great opportunity to shed light on who is a true hero in this world -- policemen, firemen, doctors -- those who are serving and protecting every day. My father is the man I admire the most, and I wanted to accept that award in recognition of him.”
From the moment he arrived in New York up until this very day, Adam has proudly been the humble, hard-working son of Henry and Lynda Graves, people who opened up their home to foster children and believed that serving is much more important than being served. And Adam, his wife Violet, and his brothers and sisters all carry that same commitment in their lives today.
“I try to honor my father’s approach to life every day,” says Graves. “To this day he is the man I emulate the most.”