by Patrick Hoffman on 02/03/09 at 12:45 PM ET
As I am sure most of you are aware of by now, the New York Rangers will honor Adam Graves by retiring his No. 9 to the Garden rafters. Compared to the other Blueshirt retirees (Rod Gilbert, Eddie Giacomin, Mike Richter, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch), Graves did not produce as much statistically (280 goals, 227 assists, and 507 points in 772 games) but he certainly bled red, white and blue like no other Blueshirt for 10 seasons.
On the ice, Graves was a hard-nosed player who drove to the net to put in rebounds, deflect shots, create havoc for opposing netminders and generate many scoring opportunities. In 1993-94, Graves became one the league’s premier left wingers when he notched 52 goals, braking previous record-holder Vic Hadfield’s 50 goals. Five seasons later, he actually fired in 38 goals, proving that even though he was getting older, he could still play hard, do all the little things right and produce. He may not have been a Gilbert, Messier or Leetch but nevertheless, he did what he had to do to be an impact player.
“Gravey” was also a tough player. He stood up for his teammates, protected his linemates and when something needed to get done, he led by example. In a piece on the team’s web site, Messier called Graves the ultimate lieutenant. He also persevered through many obstacles and was able to capture the league’s King Clancy Trophy (1994) and Bill Masterton Trophy (2001).
With all that said, this still doesn’t show who Graves really is.
Off the ice, Graves is everything that we should all aspire to be. He’s man of charity and has worked for many different causes throughout his life, something he learned from his parents as they took in 40 kids who needed homes back when Graves was a young boy. While hockey was/is obviously a big part of Adam’s life, being a great man is much bigger.
“I try and wake up every day and treat it as an opportunity to put a smile on a face,” Graves told the team’s web site. “It’s all about the people you meet along the way, whether it’s the camaraderie with teammates or spending time with sick children. I can say that I’ve learned as much from kids and young adults about courage and perseverance as I have from anyone.”
And so tonight, ranger fans will pay homage to one of the finest New Yorkers anyone could ask for. He may not go in the Hockey Hall of Fame but for Graves, this is all he could have hoped and asked for. He’s a Ranger through and through and tonight, Ranger fans should let him know that they all think that.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.