Rangers legend Adam Graves ‘honored’ to take part in PWHL New York home opener

Adam Graves at NY PWHL game
Adam Graves at NY PWHL game (photo: Jim Cerny)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Adam Graves has been in the middle of his fair share of big-time hockey moments. In fact, it doesn’t get much bigger than helping the New York Rangers win their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years back in 1994.

But the Rangers legend said that dropping the ceremonial first puck at PWHL New York’s inaugural home game at Total Mortgage Arena here in Bridgeport on Friday ranks right up there for him.

“When I walked out there, I just told the captains (Micah Zandee-Hart of New York, Blayre Turnbull of Toronto), ‘I’m so proud to be here and play a small part in all of this,’” Graves told Forever Blueshirts. “I’m just incredibly honored. It’s a privilege.”

Latest: Rangers need Adam Fox to regain his pre-injury form

Adam Graves believes women’s hockey players ‘deserve’ the PWHL

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The PWHL is not only the latest professional women’s league in North America. It’s got the chance to do what each of its predecessors — most recently, the Premier Hockey Federation — failed to do. Achieve long-term success.

Where previous leagues were poorly funded and the players worked other jobs, sometimes selling tickets to games they played in, the PWHL is financed by the sole ownership of the Mark Walter Group.

That would be the same entity which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. The same owner that dropped a fortune to sign Shohei Ohtani to the richest contract in MLB history.

So, the word “professional” applies to the new Professional Women’s Hockey League.

And Graves believes it’s about time.

“The women’s game and its incredible players deserve this,” Graves explained. “And the great thing is the impact that these players and this league will have, starting on the ice and then spreading in their communities. They will impact future generations of players at all levels, girls and boys. That for me is the great gift of the game.”

The PWHL, women’s hockey should be ‘celebrated,’ Adam Graves states

The new league raised the curtain on its inaugural season New Year’s Day in Toronto, when New York won the first game in league history, 4-0. Graves, who raised two hockey-playing daughters with his wife, Violet, was dialed in.

“I watched the first game with my family in our home, and it was incredible,” Graves said. “Watching the women’s game from where it was and where it is now and where it’s going is exciting. I love the women’s game. I think it’s fantastic.”

Graves is active with youth hockey and has seen the increase of girls playing the sport over the years. He expects those numbers to take off with PWHL players committed to being heavily involved in their communities, specifically the New York team representing the tristate area that is near and dear to his heart.

After dropping the ceremonial first puck alongside former Rangers and Islanders forward Aaron Asham on Friday, Graves was happy to step back and let the women have their deserved moment in the spotlight.

So, wearing his familiar No. 9 on a New York jersey — albeit in the unfamiliar seafoam green not the Blueshirt he’s most associated with — Graves watched a new era of hockey commence. And, despite New York’s 3-2 loss to Toronto, Graves couldn’t have been any happier for the players, the sport and what’s to come next.

“What’s happening here should be celebrated.”

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny