Validation: recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile
Vindication: proof that someone or something is right, reasonable or justified.
Validation or vindication, you can call what you want, but when former NHL star and five time Stanley Cup Champion Kevin Lowe announced the winner of the trophy that bares his name for the best defensive defenceman in the QMJHL yesterday afternoon the collective hockey world could feel a sense of both for Cape Breton Eagles stalwart Adam McCormick.
The nineteen-year-old undrafted defender has experienced his share of highs and lows throughout his major junior career making winning this award so special.
“It really does mean a lot,” confessed McCormick when asked about receiving the Kevin Lowe Trophy.
“The Eagles organization have been great to me for the last four years they put me in this situation and it really means a lot.”
Perseverance and persistence continues to define McCormick’s journey in the game.
The humble solid two-way transitional defenceman was well on his way to having a career year for the newly branded Eagles when the horrific COVID-19 pandemic struck cancelling the remainder of the season.
At the time McCormick was a brilliant +45 and recorded 33 points in 50 games while playing in every situation imaginable for Eagles Head Coach Jake Grimes.
“Jake was really good to us this year, not only to myself to all the players and he gave everyone a chance to play night in and night out which helped everyone’s game,” explained the soft spoken veteran rearguard.
The Eagles had loaded up during the QMJHL Trade Period for a potential run at a President Cup and beyond.
The Eagles were a very dangerous team that could have very well upset some of the top contenders this season.
With Grimes at the helm, the Eagles were 40-20-2-1 when the season came to a shocking end.
“Adam plays the game the right way,” said Grimes.
“He takes care of all areas of the game and for a defenceman that’s a tall task.”
“Coaches are always looking for complete players, Adam’s stats and style of play more than shows how worthy he is to receive this prestigious league award,” Grimes added.
“I always had this feeling that my nineteen year old season with the Eagles would kind of be the year that we would go for it, especially having a lot of older players on this year’s team,” McCormick said.
“In the years gone by we had ‘ok’ teams, but this year was the year that put everything out there and it really sucks the way it ended, but it is what it is.”
If anyone understands the importance of taking life and hockey one-step at a time while gaining perspective it’s Adam McCormick.
The hard-nosed competitor and quiet leader has faced a tremendous amount of adversity on and off the ice.
Audrey McCormick, Adam’s mother was diagnosed with bronchiectasis, a rare incurable disease that targets the lungs in 2008.
By 2014, her condition worsened and she required a double lung transplant. Audrey underwent a successful transplant in 2017 and is now doing well.
“As everyone knows my mother and my family have been through quite a bit over the past few years and the majority of my childhood growing up, so this feels really good for everyone,” McCormick said of winning the Kevin Lowe Trophy and being able to share that moment with his family at home.
“My parents were pretty emotional when they found out.”
“It’s great to see my mom feel that way and doing as well as she is doing right now,” McCormick said proudly.
McCormick is quick to credit his experience at Dallas Stars Development Camp a few years back for being a catalyst for his success over the past two seasons.
“Dallas was great opportunity for me,” admitted the Woodstock, New Brunswick product.
“It was after my seventeen year that I got the invite, obviously after not being drafted, but I went there with the right mindset going into Development Camp and later on into Rookie Camp in Traverse City.”
“It was just a great opportunity soaking everything in on and off the ice and really prepared me for my eighteen year old season and this year.”
What does the future hold for McCormick?
“The future is unknown right now and I think everyone understands that in the Canadian Hockey League and the world in general.”
“Honestly, it’s just about doing your own thing right now and focusing off the ice and just trying to doing everything you can to prepare so that you’re ready for the start of the season,” explained McCormick.
“Who knows what’s going to happened or when the season is going to start, if it does, or when camps are, so no one knows that kind of thing, so it’s definitely going to be different, I assume, but we will see.”
There is one certainty during these uncertain times. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia will always have a special place in McCormick’s heart.
“This year and the past years with the Eagles have been great.”
“Who knows what’s going to come or where I’m going to play this coming year, but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” admitted McCormick.
For now what’s McCormick doing to stay in shape?
“My parents have been asking other family members for gym equipment they don’t use so I guess that’s the only thing we can do right now.”
“We have a pretty big basement so we have a bunch of gym equipment down there, so I’ve been doing that everyday plus going for runs,” McCormack said.
“I’m just trying to stay busy.”
Adam McCormick has flown under the radar for the vast majority of his junior career.
Often times the hard nosed prototypical two-way defender goes unnoticed or isn’t flashy enough to gain notoriety.
Under McCormick’s quiet confident demeanor lives a fierce competitor who takes an enormous amount of pride playing the game he loves.
Adam McCormick is a perfect example of a player that has worked extremely hard, trusted the process while doing anything and everything to help his team win.
The ultimate team player and leader has never tried to change his identity or style of play, which makes winning this award even more validating.
Hard work, dedication and playing to your identity still means something in the game of hockey.
To Adam McCormick and those that have followed his journey in the game, it means everything.
Recognition, affirmation and justification is intrinsically rewarding, but it doesn’t fuel the passion or define a player’s identity.
McCormick’s Kevin Lowe Trophy victory solidifies what we already know, Adam McCormick is one hell of hockey player and person, who takes a tremendous amount pride in winning and playing the game he loves the right way.
Validation or vindication, you can call it what you want, but Adam McCormick deserves whatever accolades being directed his way for an amazing season and career.