All true hockey people have a great appreciation for the physical aspects of our beloved game. Hockey is of course not for the faint of heart, and certainly is played by men who are made from tough stock. Anyone who tells you they don’t like the aggression of hockey, or a momentum changing hit or fight is lying – or they are a soccer fan. In any event Adam Keefe is certainly a tough, gritty, and very popular player in the UK Elite League.
His hard-nosed play is admired by Belfast Giants fans, and he is loathed in other teams’ barns for his ability to rattle and intimidate. Murph was lucky enough to catch up with Keefe for a chat about his off-season training, and places he loves to play on the road. Check out their 1-on-1 chat here:
Murph On Ice – First off, thanks for taking some time to join me on the website Keefer.
Adam Keefe – No problem Murph, thanks for having me.
MOI – It’s been an incredible off-season in the Elite League. With so many new faces coming on board and signing, and lots of high end talent. Who are some of the new Giant signings that you are most excited about playing with this season?
AK – This summers’ signings across the league have been very impressive. It will be a lot more competitive league this season, which is great for the EIHL and fans. I’m excited to get to Belfast and meet all the new guys. I have played against some of them in the past. I would be lying by saying I wasn’t a little concerned a month ago when we still needed to sign eight more imports, but Doug Christiansen (Giants Head Coach) is a great recruiter, and has done a good job replacing the guys we lost from last season with quality players again.
MOI – You are one of the most physical guys in the league, and one of the most exciting guys to watch. Who are some of the new players on other squads that you are really looking forward to battling on the ice in 2012/2013 and why?
AK – There has been quite a few signings this summer of gritty energy guys. The fans will be in for a treat when the teams in our conference collide. I’m excited to play against and battle with them all actually. It makes me elevate my game when I’m constantly in a battle out there. A little adrenaline rush I guess you could say. I’m bringing my work boots to Belfast with me next week because I’ve got my “work” cut out for me.
MOI – Speaking of physical play, how has the off-season training been going, and what can fans league-wide expect from Adam Keefe this year?
AK – My off-season training has been going great. I spent the majority of the summer in sunny Southern California on the beaches of Laguna. I was taking in as much sun as possible because they don’t get much of it in Northern Ireland. I’m back in the Toronto area now skating as much as I can. I’ve shed about 18lbs (a little over a stone for you UK folk) of unwanted weight. I’m hoping this makes me much faster on the ice when it comes time to hit the Odyssey on September 1st. The fans can expect to see the same Adam Keefe they saw last year, my game doesn’t change much. I’d like to continue to build on my offensive numbers this season as well. Take the hint Doug, throw me the odd PP. I’ll even take that last 15 seconds, haha.
MOI – The Giants had a great season last year. Is there a sense for you that there are more great things ahead with the roster that Doug Christiansen and Todd Kelman have put together? What are your goals for the campaign both for the team and personally?
AK – Last season was an amazing experience to be a part of, and one of the best seasons I’ve had in my seven years as a pro. However, starting September 1st last season is gone. I’m excited to get started with the team that Doug and Todd have built this season. We still have one import D-man to get inked, but Dougie will find the right guy. I think my goals this season are the same as they were last season, to win as many championships as we can. The EIHL having the League Title being the biggest one, makes for a long and grueling season. You can’t afford to have a bad night in regular season matches or you will be out of the race in no time. The Continental Cup in Germany should be another great experience and challenge for us. It’s the one time when the whole league supports that team representing the EIHL in that tournament. We’re going into Germany and looking to come back with a title and an invitation to the next tourney in Italy. As far as my personal goals go, I just want to win and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep that cup in Belfast this season, even if it means I’ll be spending some more time with our doctors and dentists getting patched up.
MOI – The fans in Belfast obviously love you, but you have certainly ruffled some of the fans of other teams! What are some of the EIHL cities where you really love to play as a visitor, and which fans do you get the most vocal response from?
AK – I enjoy battling with the fans in all the away buildings, but I’d have to say Cardiff, Hull, Dundee, and Coventry have the best atmosphere when it comes to the banter with the crowd. In Cardiff, you have the Big Blue Tent, and a mini stick ice surface which makes for a battle every night. I myself enjoy the donkey chants I often get in the BBT. Hull has some good banter as well, with the non stop “Who are ya?” chants. Unfortunately for them, they know exactly who I am. Dundee’s crowd of ‘Keyboard Tough Guys’ behind the bench always make for a good laugh. Coventry has some characters behind the benches as well, that let me know I can’t stick handle very well, or that I don’t get on the PP ever, which always gets a few giggles out of the boys. They even enjoy mocking Doug. I guess I should throw an honorable mention out to the fans behind the penalty box in Fife as well, or the guy who takes the game a little too serious that always stands beside our bench.
MOI – You’ve played at various levels during your career. Who are some of the guys that have really made an impression on you along the way both on and off the ice?
AK – I’ve played with lots of great guys, and awesome players who I’ve taken certain things from, and tried to emulate them. Mike Keane was one of the best leaders I’ve had in pro hockey. His passion for the game, and willingness to do anything it takes to win a game was amazing. He played over 10 seasons in the NHL because of it, and won himself three Stanley Cups. Coventry’s Mike Danton has been inspiring to watch, his pro comeback story after what he went through from making it to the NHL, to being incarcerated for five years, to coming back to pro hockey. David Clarkson and Mike Richards are two of my close friends as well. I played four years in Kitchener in the OHL with them, and we won a Memorial Cup together in 2003. It has been fun to follow their NHL careers now. Not so fun to have to see them play against each other last year in the Stanley Cup finals though. I wanted them both to win one. There can only be one winner though, and Clarky didn’t get to hoist Stanley. His hard work and dedication to the game will get him back to the Cup one day. Last year was Richies’ year, and I’m flying into his hometown of Kenora tomorrow, to help him celebrate his day with the Cup. I’m hoping I don’t ruin four months of summer training in one weekend with the Cup! There are too many guys to name over the years, but fun to follow there careers now in the NHL. My brother Sheldon has probably been the biggest influence in my career, and continues to be so. An injury cut his career short but he managed to play 125 NHL games more then me. Today he is doing amazing things in junior hockey in Pembroke, Ontario. He owns, and coaches the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the CJHL in Canada. He has won five-straight league championships, and one national title, pretty impressive for any league. With his resume, look for him to be climbing the ladder in the hockey world soon. I believe he will coach in the NHL one day, if given the right opportunities along the way.
MOI – You and Mike Danton have had some great chirping going on this summer – but all jokes aside, he’s a good player who is going to grab attention this year – what kind of season do you expect from your old friend?
AK – Mike is a good friend who I have grown up with since I was just a little guy. Though I haven’t seen him play in a long time, Coventry fans can expect to see a guy who will do what it takes to win, and he will put up some good numbers along the way. He competes night in and night out with a hard nosed gritty style. If you have played in the NHL before then you’re good, not too often do you see someone not deserving to be in the NHL. From talking to him, I know he really wants to win a championship, its my job to stop him from that though! We have the Elite League trophy in Belfast Mikey, try and come and get it. Haha. All jokes aside, he is what Coventry needed, and I think they will be a very good team this year.
MOI – And finally, which team or teams do you think will be the toughest opposition, as the Giants try and defend the Elite League title and why?
AK – Looking at the teams on paper I’d say all the teams in our conference look great, and it should make for a great season of competitive hockey. Braehead is also looking pretty good on paper. But as we all know, sometimes looking good on paper doesn’t mean a thing once the puck drops. I guess we will find out in September. Looking forward to it.
MOI – Thanks again Keefer, I’ll see you at the rink soon enough.
AK – No problem Murph, my pleasure.
You can follow Murph on Twitter @MurphOnIce