Buffalo’s new HarborCenter aims to be destination site for North American players and teams

Mike Brophy
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Note: This article has been sponsored by HarborCenter.

It wasn’t until he was 18 years old and he got to meet Pat LaFontaine that Kevyn Adams rubbed shoulders with an NHL superstar.

Adams had attended hockey schools as a kid, but there were never any NHL instructors present. So as the 40-year-old ex-NHLer prepares to tackle the responsibility of imparting his experience and influence on young hockey players at the newly constructed HarborCenter in Buffalo, it is a responsibility he takes seriously.

“I just had that conversation with my mother the other day and she said, ‘Do you remember when you were a kid how excited you would have been to have an opportunity like this to work with an NHL player?’ and the truth is, it is pretty special,” said Adams, the director of the Academy of Hockey at HarborCenter.

HarborCenter, which officially opens Oct. 31 and will be home to the Buffalo Junior Sabres program as well as Canisius College men’s Div. I hockey team, is a hockey and entertainment complex with two NHL-sized rinks, six 1,000-square-foot dressing rooms, a sports bar and restaurant and a two-story Tim Horton’s Coffee and Bake Shop. Buffalo mayor Byron Brown will unveil a statue of former Sabres defenseman Tim Horton on the weekend.

Adams, a defensive specialist who played 540 games in the NHL scoring 59 goals and 136 points with a handful of teams, spent two years as the development coach with the Buffalo Sabres upon retiring as a player and then two more years as coach Lindy Ruff’s assistant before returning to school to complete his MBA. He was approached by Sabres owner Terry Pegula with the notion of building HarborCenter and has spent the past year and a half hiring staff and preparing for the opening of the facility.

Although he was born in Washington, D.C., Adams grew up in Buffalo and is pumped to be able to give back to the community he cherishes.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to have the chance, with the Pegulas’ backing, to raise the level of hockey in Western New York and beyond,” Adams said.

Adams added he has always been passionate about player development and teaching as well as building on the business side. He said his philosophy is simple: “This game is about having fun; it’s at the core of everything we do. It’s about teaching players and coaches to love the game.”

Adams believes HarborCenter will become a destination site for players and teams from all over the United States and Canada. He said there are already plans in place for 20 tournaments starting Halloween weekend and running right through the end of hockey season for all levels of player, male and female.

The team Adams assembled to help run the Academy of Hockey includes former NHL goalie Martin Biron, who will be the director of goaltending, and another former NHL forward, Adam Mair. The staff will also include up to 10 instructors who either coached college hockey or played at a high level.

Adams will take a holistic approach to player development that will be all-encompassing from on-ice skill development to off-ice workouts with video as a teaching tool. There will be a small player-to-coach ratio.

“We want players,” Adams said, “from the young ones right up to NHL players, to come here and have a great experience.”

Watch the 2014 Heritage Classic and join #THNLive to win an official Team Canada Olympic jersey

B.C. Place in preparation for The Heritage Classic

It’s not often that you can say in sports that a meeting between two teams is the most significant event in their rivalry in 99 years, but that happens to be the case with the 2014 Heritage Classic game featuring the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks.

When you go back that far in history, you’re talking pre-NHL days. In this case, we’re referring to the 1915 Stanley Cup Finals between the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion Vancouver Millionaires and the National Hockey Association champion Ottawa Senators. The Millionaires swept the best-of-five series in three games, with a combined score of 26-8. We can only hope this year’s Heritage Classic will be more competitive.

While hockey fans will be tuning in for the novelty of watching world-class hockey players performing outdoors, the Senators (12th in the Eastern Conference) and Canucks (tied for eighth in the Western Conference) are both fighting to get back in the playoff picture. Vancouver is tied with Dallas and Winnipeg for the final playoff seed in the West, but they are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games so they must hope that the biggest crowd to ever watch them play — over 50,000 are expected to attend this year’s Heritage Classic at B.C. Place — will inspire them to snap out of their funk.

You can tune in to the Heritage Classic at 4:00 pm Eastern on CBC in Canada or on NBC Sports Network in the U.S. While you’re watching, join Adam Proteau on The Hockey News’ Twitter account for our #THNLive coverage of the game, presented by Honda. You could win a Honda prize pack valued at $600, including an official Team Canada Olympic hockey jersey and a $100 gas card.

Join #THNLive on Twitter tonight and you could win this signed Curtis Joseph jersey

The Hockey News
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A Leafs-Senators game on Saturday night is reason enough for hockey fans to get fired up, but The Hockey News is adding some fuel to the fire by giving away a signed Curtis Joseph jersey on Twitter tonight. Join Ken Campbell at 7p.m. EST when he takes over The Hockey News’ Twitter account for our latest #THNLive event, sponsored by the ScotiaHockey NHL debit card and the Scotiabank Hockey Adventure of a Lifetime contest. Ken will provide running commentary during the game, interact with @TheHockeyNews followers and give them the opportunity to enter to win the beauty of a jersey you see at the top of this post.

Coming off a 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday that ended a five-game losing streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs will try to carry that momentum when they visit the Ottawa Senators Saturday night. The “Battle of Ontario” rivalry has been one-sided recently as the Leafs have won seven of the past eight matchups — most recently a 5-4 shootout victory in October.

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Join #THNLive on Twitter tonight and you could win this signed Doug Gilmour jersey

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Regardless of what their fanbases think of each other, it’s a reach to claim the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks have a rivalry to speak of. After all, how can you have a rivalry when one team has beaten the other 10 straight times spanning a 10-year period?

Ryan Kesler and the Sedin brothers are the only players on either team who played the last time the Leafs beat the Canucks — a 2-1 victory Nov. 24, 2003. To emphasize the one-sidedness of this stretch, only one of the past 10 games went beyond regulation.

This recent history adds special significance to tonight’s Leafs-Canucks matchup in Vancouver and is all the more reason for you to join Adam Proteau at 7p.m. EST when he takes over The Hockey News’ Twitter account for our latest #THNLive event, sponsored by the ScotiaHockey NHL debit card. Adam will provide running commentary during the game, interact with @TheHockeyNews followers and give them the opportunity to enter to win the beauty of a jersey you see at the top of this post.

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