DETROIT -- For Detroit Red Wings prospect Jack Adams, last season was unlike any other, both good and horribly bad -- the worst, in fact.
That worst was when Adams' older brother, Mark, nicknamed Roo, passed away suddenly at the age of 27 on Sept. 18, 2018.
Adams was already back at Union College, starting his sophomore year, when he got the devastating news.
His coach, Rick Bennett, drove him home. Although he was grief-stricken, Adams never thought about leaving school or quitting hockey.
"Coach Bennett drove me home and told me and then I was back at school a week later and we played a week later versus Army," Adams said during the third day of development camp at Little Caesars Arena. "It was a pretty quick turnaround. I lost, like, 25 pounds in the process. Yeah, it's life. You can't look back on it.
"It's tough but the grieving with me, just playing hockey is the best way to get through it. I was at the rink two to three hours a day, working out with our strength coach and doing extra stuff on the ice was the only way to get my mind off it. Sitting in my dorm does nothing for me, or just sitting at home just sulking is not what Roo would want.
"He was my biggest fan so for me to honor his legacy is by playing and doing the best that I can."
Adams, who writes a blog for DetroitRedWings.com called "You Don't Know Jack," also used his writing to help him with his grief.
Being in college surrounded by a strong support system also helped Adams.
"My family, faith, the two biggest things," Adams said. "Both my parents are still obviously having a really hard time with it, which is the toughest thing for me, but I have a really good sports psychologist back at school, Doc Wally Bzdell has helped me a ton and Coach Bennett's been unbelievable for me in talking in his office once or twice a week, letting stuff out. But the feeling hasn't gone away quite yet. My teammates have been unbelievable for me. The biggest thing for me, my teammates at Union have been unbelievable. But yeah, it still sucks."
The loss took a toll on Adams as he worked to get back to where he was at the end of last summer.
He said it was 3-4 months before he was able to gain the weight back.
"I went from, like, 210 to like, 180, literally in a week," Adams said. "I don't know how. I couldn't eat or sleep. Right now I put the weight back on so I'm about 220 but the sleep hasn't really gotten there yet.. It's coming so it's getting better."
Adams was already a big guy, listed at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds when he was drafted in the sixth round, 162nd overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, but now says he has grown to 6-foot-6.
"I think it's just for me growing into my body is the biggest thing," Adams said. "It's been a long year, emotionally and physically, but I think just keep getting in the weight room, eating the right things like Lisa (McDowell, team dietitian) teaches us, has helped me get on the right track so I'm almost there physically but a long way to go still."
In 38 games for Union, Adams had 10 goals, 12 assists and was plus-13.
"Playing-wise, it was good," Adams said. "We had a lot of fun, went to Europe for a week in Ireland, that was a blast. Our team was top 10 in the country, up and down, but it was a great year maturing-wise physically but it was a tough year. Hockey-wise, it went really well. I took a big step, I think. A long way to go, but I feel good right now."
In addition to hockey, Adams also had his studies to keep him occupied.
"School's good," Adams said. "I'm a political science major, was on the All-Academic ECAC team, which was tough but our coach is really intense with that and my parents care a ton about school. Union's very difficult academically, it's a huge part of our life is school there and our coach stresses that a lot but we have great tutors and stuff that help. So that was another way to help me grieve was the academic part of it was my studies."
On May 23, Adams wrote a touching tribute in honor of what would have been Roo's 28th birthday.
On Aug. 12, Adams and his family will be at the Turner Hill Country Club in Ipswich, Mass. for the Mark "Roo" Adams Golf Classic to benefit the Mark Roo Adams Friars4Ever Foundation.
Then Adams will wrap up the summer by getting ready to start his junior year, which he hopes to make the best ever.
"I think it's finally my time to get an opportunity so I'm really excited about that," Adams said. "Learned a ton from our senior class who just graduated. Coach Bennett's been unbelievable for me so I'm excited for what's to come. We have a good team coming back but yeah, junior year is a big year for us to take a jump. I just gotta keep going day by day and working hard and if I do that, good things will happen."
BACK ON THE ICE: Filip Zadina and Taro Hirose, both of whom have been dealing with sore hamstrings, skated on Thursday.
Alec Regula, who has been dealing with inflammation in his left knee, remains off the ice.