Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – Last season, Adam Mair went from being a part of the player development staff for the Buffalo Sabres to being an assistant coach with the Rochester Americans.
This year, he’s back as the director of player development in Buffalo. Mair said he did like coaching, but this is his passion.
“I really did enjoy coaching. It was a great experience, but I had spent five years in player development, and it’s something that I’m passionate about," Mair said last week at the Sabres Prospects Challenge. "I love helping young players. I love watching them grow and being a part of their success, so it felt like a natural fit.”
One of the first things Mair did was to hire two guys very familiar to Western New York.
Nathan Paetsch played 10 games for Rochester in the 2019-20 season before calling it quits at the age of 36. Paetsch played 157 games with the Sabres, to go with six full seasons with the Amerks.
Tim Kennedy is from Buffalo and played 79 games with the Sabres. In the 2016-17 season near the end of his career, the 35-year-old played a season with Rochester.
Mair is very familiar with both men, and knows what they bring to the table.
“Both guys are really versed and experienced in the game," Mair said. "The fact that both played for the Buffalo Sabres I think is huge, given that players are passionate about this community, passionate about the team. Nathan being a defenseman and Tim being a forward, I think that helps our prospects.
“Nathan played major junior hockey (Moose Jaw Warriors), while Tim played college hockey (Michigan State) and both are good at relating to players. For me, they’re both hockey guys, so it was a good fit.”
The Sabres Prospects Challenge and training camp is when Mair and his staff get a chance to sit down with the youngsters and set goals for their upcoming seasons. Mair said it is a very busy time for him and his staff.
“For us, it’s a chance to get to know the players, especially the guys that are going back to junior hockey,” Mair said.
Those players will be returning to their respective junior teams soon. Mair and his staff must also keep tabs on the European players, as well as the guys in college like Owen Power, Matteo Costantini, Ryan Johnson, Erik Portillo and Devon Levi. Mair said just because they aren’t here, doesn’t mean they’re not in touch.
“It’s continual and ongoing," he said. "We keep in touch at least once a week, we track them, we’re in contact with their coaching staffs. Just to paint a picture of what the player is going through not just on the ice, but off the ice.”
There are, of course, things that the Sabres want their prospects to be working on as they’re with their teams. Mair said they have ways of doing it that will not interfere with their coaches.
“I’m a big believer of this. It’s building a relationship with the coaching staff. We want to work in lockstep with them," Mair said. "We’re never going to deviate from the message of the coach, so we want to push the message of their coaches, as well has help their habits.”