Adam Mair played in 650 regular season and postseason games throughout his 12-year NHL career. He appeared in the conference finals three times and has a Presidents’ Trophy under his belt as a member of the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.
Now, he’s starting over.
Fresh off his retirement from professional hockey, the 33-year-old Mair is taking on a new challenge as the director of player development for the men’s hockey team at Canisius College.
“It’s a different job. I’m starting over with no experience,” states Mair. “Throughout my career I’ve been in learning roles, leadership roles and mentoring roles. For the first time since my rookie year, I’m starting over. The learning curve begins again.”
Mair made the decision to retire from professional hockey last spring after spending the 2011-12 season in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons.
At first, retirement meant he’d have an opportunity to return home and spend time with his family in Hamilton, Ontario. But an itch to remain around the game he’s played his entire life prompted Mair to send out a few feelers for coaching jobs around the NHL and AHL.
“I got a lot of good feedback, but there wasn’t a ton of jobs out there for one reason or another.”
That’s when he reached out to Canisius head coach Dave Smith to ask if he’d like a hand.
After trading a few emails back in September, it didn’t take Smith and the folks at Canisius long to think of all the ways the program could benefit from having someone with an NHL pedigree on board.
Mair said it came down to having the chance to come ‘home.’
“I wanted to keep my career in hockey going for as long as I can,” Mair said. “It was about finding a spot that fit. I always enjoyed playing hockey in this area. It’s an opportunity to stay involved in Buffalo and in the community. It feels like home here. That’s kind of what I was looking for most.”
Mair is responsible for the general oversight of the school’s hockey program where he’ll apply his experience in the NHL to everything from player evaluation and scouting, to game preparation and attracting recruits.
“I’m hoping to be a big influence on building a winning culture,” Mair said. “For me, it’s just coming in to lend a hand; someone new to give them a fresh set of eyes.”
In addition to the seven seasons he spent in Buffalo, Mair also made stops in Toronto (1998-01), Los Angeles (2001-02) and New Jersey (2010-11). Along the way he served time under the wings of several Jack Adams Award winning coaches.
It’s just nice to be able to talk about hockey all day once again. My job has changed, but the great feeling to be around hockey in Buffalo is definitely the same. - Adam Mair
Former coaches Lindy Ruff, Jacques Lemaire and Pat Quinn each influenced his playing career in one way or another, Mair said. Now, he hopes to use some of what he learned from the game’s best and apply it toward building a winning program at Canisius.
“I was lucky enough to play for some coaches who I consider some of the very best at what they do,” Mair said. “They each had a different approach. You see how they handle some of the most elite hockey players, and you try to pull from those experiences. You try to take a little away from everyone that you learn from.”
Though Mair is still getting used to campus life, the Griffs have wasted no time warming up to having a former NHLer around the rink.
After they hung tight in a 1-0 road loss to Minnesota on Oct. 28, Mair said he’s already beginning to see the potential his new opportunity with Canisius presents.
“It’s going quite well so far,” Mair said. “I think that, for me personally, I love it. We’re working with a great group this year and we’re doing things that will get people excited about our on-ice product down the road.
“It’s just nice to be able to talk about hockey all day once again. My job has changed, but the great feeling to be around hockey in Buffalo is definitely the same.”