Buffalo Sabres promote Kevyn Adams to assistant coach

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Generally speaking, the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes weren’t exactly known for their defense-minded play or excelling at “doing the small things.” If you ask me, that team won because it sent wave after wave of dangerous forwards after opponents, pushed the pace from their defense and leaned heavily on then-rookie goalie Cam Ward.

Yet even an oddball team like that post-lockout Canes squad had its fair share of blue collar workers, from Mike Commodore and his giant red afro to the two Adams: Kevyn and Craig. They weren’t siblings, but sometimes it seemed that way considering how willing they were to do the dirty work to help that team win.

While Craig continues to ply his versatile, lime-light-deflecting trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kevyn Adams retired in 2009 and joined the Buffalo Sabres organization as a player development coach. Apparently the Sabres are liking what they’re seeing with him because they announced that Adams will be an assistant coach for Lindy Ruff next season.

Ruff will probably need some good assistants to lean on in 2011-12 because there will be plenty of pressure to succeed after Buffalo spent big (and often) during its first off-season with Terry Pegula as their owner. It sounds like Adams will probably work primarily with forwards, which makes perfect sense considering the fact that he has 10 years of NHL experience to back up his points.

“Kevyn is going to work with the forwards, and be involved in the special teams, and continue the development work with the players. I’ve got some different thoughts on our special teams, and I’d like to utilize all three coaches. I think that’s how you develop,” Ruff explains. “Kevyn may be a voice in one or the other, and I’ve talked to him about it. I don’t think solely do I want either coach just to run either (the power play or penalty kill).

In a strange way, this must be a dream come true (or at least half-true) because Adams grew up as a Sabres fan but never played for Buffalo during his journeyman NHL career.

A native of Clarence, NY, Adams is thrilled about having the opportunity to further his coaching career with his hometown team. Adams even mentioned how his father reminisced with him yesterday about the two of them sitting with in the last row of the orange seats at The Aud while he was growing up. Not having played with the Sabres during his 10-year NHL career, Adams relishes the chance to finally be part of the team’s success.

“The one thing that I have is there was a passion in me from the time I was four or five years old being a Sabres fan. Then you lose that when you playing because all you want to do is win, wherever you are. When Darcy and Lindy called me a couple of years ago and this first opportunity came, I was so eager to get started and so excited about it, and it’s built from there. This next step is something I can’t wait to wrap my arms around and go after.”

(Screen shot via Buffalo

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”