BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Kevyn Adams is a very busy man.
Between the 2022 NHL Draft, the start of free agency, and contract negotiations for players with expiring contracts, there isn’t much free time for NHL general managers this time of year.
Yet despite the chaos, Adams is prioritizing his time away from the rink. When he’s not on the phone with other teams, he’s in the dugout as the coach of the Clarence Angels 15U travel baseball team.
“You know, it's just a sport that I've always enjoyed playing,” Adams told 7 sports. “Now it's fun to give back a little bit.”
While hockey has always been Adams’ focus, he grew up playing baseball in the off-season. He passed along that passion to his son, Jackson, who has been playing baseball in Clarence for years.
“You don't get the time back, right?” Adams said. “What I do know is that when my wife and I are older and the kids have moved on, we will miss this. I always use the line of the kids, when it's 80 degrees and the sun is shining, you get to go play a sport and you realize how fortunate you are and I look at it the same way.”
“He’s been building a culture with these guys when they were eight and nine years old,” John Ferriter, a fellow Angels parent said. “Now the team takes care of each other versus having to rely on their coach to do that.”
But on those 80 degree summer days, sometimes duty calls. Especially with the draft and free agency rapidly approaching. That’s why the fellow coaches on the Angels staff know that sometimes the Sabres GM will need to find a quiet spot and start discussing the parameters of a trade.
“This time of year, if the phone rings, then I need to take the call, and I may need to run where nobody is around and have a conversation and take my notes and come back. So, other times of year, I might not do that as much, but right now, that's the priority.”
Despite a 540-game career and Stanley Cup as a player, it’s harder than ever for Adams to go unnoticed. As he manages his hometown team, he often gets advice from fellow baseball parents about what moves he should be making. Last year the chatter couldn’t be avoided, as the Sabres shopped stars Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.
“Last summer I was coaching third base and I had a parent ask why I wasn't in the office trading Eichel. So I've seen both sides of it, but that's part of it, and I love the passion our city has for our sports teams.”
It’s too early to know if Adams made the right moves with Eichel or Reinhart, but the early returns suggest the Sabres are trending in the right direction. Last season, the Sabres finished fifth in the Atlantic Division with 75 points. While the progress is promising, the Sabres still have a long way to go. The last team in the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs had 100 points. But Adams isn’t interested in rushing the rebuild as his team looks to snap a playoff drought dating back to 2012.
“What we don't want to do is go out there and hit fast forward or try to do something that in the short term may make us a little bit better but either blocks ice time for younger guys or blocks development for current guys on our team. I just don't think that's the recipe for us to get us to where we need to get.”
Where the Sabres need to get is back into the playoffs. Adams is reminded of that at the rink talking to his team or at the ballpark with his fellow baseball parents.
“I feel that one of the amazing parts of my job is that I'm connected to this town, I feel so strongly that we need to have a team that our fans can be excited about and they relate to the players and the players are passionate about putting on a Sabres jersey. Part of that is because I grew up here and have such a passion for the organization and the city.”
So while Adams knows what the organization means to this city, his most important job is as a father, raising three children. So whether at the ballpark, the rink, or in his home, there’s a common theme to what he’s trying to accomplish.
“[It’s] to help everyone be the best they can, but also give them perspective on the big picture.”