Adam Calder, to many Coventry Blaze, is the very definition of the word ‘legend’ after the years of service and success he helped to bring them.
He first arrived in 2004 after a year with Wichita Thunder in the CHL and three seasons prior to that with the South Carolina Stingrays.
So when he arrived on these shores 14 years ago, little did he know what impact he would have on the club, but it was one that was to be a lasting one.
Following his untimely death from cancer this weekend, he has been remembered by teams, players, coaches and fans far and wide as they came together to remember Adam had on them.
He was part of an incredible Coventry team in 2004, put together by then coach Paul Thompson, the Blaze swept aside all before them to win the Grand Slam, with Calder and fellow tormentor Dan Carlsson playing pivotal roles in their success.
Calder weighed in with an impressive 37 goals and 31 assists in 58 games and when Coventry announced his signing, Thompson said at the time: “Adam will bring a lot of energy and has a record that speaks for himself.
“I know there are a lot of people who can’t understand why he hasn’t been a regular in the American Hockey League because he certainly has the ability to perform at that level.”
“‘Thommo’ wasn’t wrong and the success of that season earned Calder a move to Växjö Lakers in Sweden briefly. However, he was to make a hero’s return when he re-joined the Blaze during the 2005-06 campaign.
Soon, the faithful of the Blaze were singing along to “Reach Up” by the Perfecto Allstars on a regular basis and although Coventry couldn’t emulate the success of Calder’s first season, it laid the foundation for what was to come.
Adam racked up the highest number of points by a player in a single season in 2007/08, notching an impressive 58 goals and 67 assists, a total of 125 in all competitions in 68 appearances.
Calder added another three Elite League titles to his honours list, a Challenge Cup and a Knockout Cup and it’s no coincidence Coventry’s success between 2004 and 2010, Calder was in their team.
He left the EIHL in 2010 with a total of 485 points from 351 games, the joint eighth highest tally in the history of the league.
Adam left them to become Braehead Clan’s first ever coach, but a change in circumstance meant he instead went to Neumarkt in Italy’s second tier before coming back to the UK to join Slough Jets in the English Premier League.
A further move to Milton Keynes Lightning, also in the EPL, was to be his last as he settled into retirement and he stayed in Coventry for what was to be his final years.
The club retired his iconic #25 jersey in December 2015 and when news broke that he was battling the cancer that was to take his life at such a young age, Blaze organised a fundraising night in his honour.
The ‘Support 25’ night in October 2016 raised thousands of pounds to help with his treatment, again bringing the fans out in their droves, with Sheffield Steelers, where Paul Thompson now coaches, providing the opposition.
But as fans, ex-team mates and coaches share their memories of a player held in such high esteem, here is a selection of some of the tributes paid to him via social media as Coventry, as well as his other teams he served with distinction, mourn his loss at 42 years of age.
Rest in peace, Adam.
Danny Stewart, Blaze coach and former team-mate of Adam Calder:
Great man, great father, great friend and one hell of a hockey player Adam Calder. You will never be forgotten and may you rest in peace. God bless your family and we will all keep an eye on them for you!
Russell Cowley, former team-mate of Adam Calder:
I’m lost for words. The world lost a true legend today. #RIPCalds #25
Jeff Hutchins, Fife Flyers assistant coach and former team-mate of Adam Calder:
Sad to hear the news about Adam Calder today, a stubborn bugger and I know he would have given Cancer a proper battle. Rest in peace mate. #25
Steve Small, Coventry Blaze equipment manager:
Such a sad day for @covblazehockey but I can’t help but smile when I think about him. Great days, fantastic wins, his dry sense of humour. RIP #25
Milton Keynes Lightning:
Sending our condolences to the family & friends of Adam Calder. Not only a great player but a huge personality loved by all. RIP Adam.
It is with a heavy heart that we have learnt of the passing of former Jets player, Adam Calder following his battle with Cancer. Adam played 78 times for 144 points in Jets colours. He will be sadly missed by everyone, our thoughts are with the entire Calder family. #RIPAdam
Doug Christiansen, former Edinburgh Capitals, Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers coach:
Adam Calder = fierce competitor. He was a leader everyone wanted on their team & hated to play against. Just 42. My prayers are w/ his family.
PHOTO: Coventry Blaze