By Mike Mastovich
For The Tribune-Democrat
PITTSBURGH – PITTSBURGH — Scott Adams cheered on his beloved Detroit Red Wings for most of his life.
That’s all changed as the Stanley Cup finals began Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.
Adams is a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, an assistant to head athletic trainer Chris Stewart of Johnstown.
Both Stewart and Adams got their start in the pro game with the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs.
“That was the only team I followed growing up,” Adams said of the Red Wings, the Penguins’ opponent in the best-of-7 Cup finals.
Adams, 31, is from Windsor, Ontario, a city located a mere two miles and approximately nine minutes from Detroit.
The Detroit River separates the cities on the United States and Canadian borders.
“It wore off over time, I guess,” Adams said of his loyalty to the Red Wings. “But being able to go against them and hopefully beat them would be a best-case scenario.”
An assistant athletic trainer, Adams now tends to the needs of Penguins stars such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Not so long ago, he idolized another NHL superstar.
“Steve Yzerman was my favorite player on the Red Wings,” Adams said of the captain who played 22 seasons and 1,514 regular-season games with Detroit, scoring 692 goals.
“I just liked the way he led the team. He was the captain there. He always gave it everything he had.”
Adams finds himself on a team contending for a Stanley Cup in only his second NHL season.
Nearly three years ago, Adams joined the Chiefs staff. Ironically he filled the position once held by Stewart.
Stewart had joined the Carolina Hurricanes organization following 81/2 years with Johnstown.
After advancing from the AHL to the NHL, he was part of the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup-winning run in 2006.
Stewart became the Pens’ head athletic trainer in 2006-07 and brought Adams along as his assistant. That same year, Johnstown native Dana Heinze joined the Penguins as head equipment manager.
With Johnstown’s Dave Zeigler also assisting the equipment staff on game nights and at some practices, there is a distinct local feel in the Penguins locker room.
“It’s definitely been exciting,” Adams said. “It’s a dream just being here. It’s another dream by itself just being in the Cup final.”
His quick ascent to the NHL sometimes even stuns Adams.
“That was the plan, to make the NHL, but I didn’t think it would be in only a couple years,” he said. “I thought it would be a lot longer than that. I got lucky to be where I am at today.”