"He's very physical, he will do anything to get his team geared up," said one NHL coach. "He plays the game every inch of that ice. He wants to command, and he commands a lot of respect out there. He's a total player. He's a spark. He's an inspiration. There's an MVP guy, let me tell you. He's just an outstanding player and an outstanding person."
"Adam was always the type of kid you wanted to make it," Colin Campbell, his former coach said. "He is conscientious, nice, hard-working, respectful. And usually those guys don't make it. Adam is the milk-drinker who goes through hell for you."
He played a rugged, aggressive game of hockey, with a mean streak that enhanced his talent and inspired his teammates. He parked his often bruised body in front of the net, especially when playing on the power play. Graves was a willing fighter, often known as Mark Messier's bodyguard, both in Edmonton and later New York. Kevin Lowe, teammate of both in both cities, called Graves "the sheriff" for his willingness to defend fellow Rangers.
Graves was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings out of the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. He finished the 1988 season with the Wings after leading the Spitfires to the OHL championship. He split the 1988-89 season with the Wings and their AHL affiliate. He was quickly traded in the beginning of the 1989-90 season in a huge trade. Graves, Petr Klima, Joe Murphy and Jeff Sharples were all moved to Edmonton in exchange for Michigan-born Jimmy Carson and long time Oiler tough guy Kevin McClelland.
Graves filled a similar role to McClelland while in Edmonton, but possessed much more promise which never really was tapped in the City of Champions. He played 2 seasons with the Oilers, scoring 15 goals in 139 games. He teamed with Martin Gelinas and Joe Murphy to form the Oilers version of the "Kid Line." The trio combined speed and youthful enthusiasm in a supporting role in the Oilers 1990 Stanley Cup Championship.
The New York Rangers plucked Graves away from Edmonton in 1991 via the free agency market. It was in New York that Graves blossomed into a star. He erupted in 1991-92 to score 26 goals, doubling his career total. The next year he improved to 36 goals and by 1993-94 he joined Vic Hadfield as only the second New York Ranger in history to score 50 goals. In fact Graves' 52 goals better Hadfield's then-team record by 2. Graves would add 10 goals and 17 points in 23 playoff games to help bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to Broadway for the first time since 1940.
Graves would have trouble reaching the same plateau again. Playing in pain but rarely missing a game, he became a consistent 20 goal scorer in the years following. His body was banged up, later in his career he went through a tough time, losing his infant son and his father to deaths within months.
Through it all, Graves played with the highest dignity and class, and truly bled Rangers blue. The 1994 King Clancy Memorial winner and 2000 Bill Masterton Trophy winner, Graves participates in many activities involving under privileged kids in New York.
He now serves as the Rangers' director of community relations.