Paul Leonard Adey was born in Montreal in 1963. He played his junior hockey for Hull Olympiques, where he still holds the single-season points record. After attending the Hartford Whaler’s NHL training camp, Paul was due to link up with the Canadian national team, but missed out due to injury. He arrived in Nottingham in October 1988 with a big challenge ahead of him.
At that time, with three imports per team, the normal approach in the British league was to have two import forwards to rack up the goals and a single import defenceman. That season, Panthers coach Alex Dampier was trying a different method – two import defencemen, Terry Kurtenbach and Darren “Doc” Durdle, and a single forward. Original choice Bruce Thompson failed to produce the required points and Adey arrived as his replacement. After making an immediate impact of a slightly different kind, thrown out of both games on a Scottish weekend double-header for fighting, Adey soon began to rack up the points and his hard-working style, eye for goal and speedy skating proved the ideal mix as a lone import forward. Ably supported by the rushes of Durdle and his British line mates, local players Nigel Rhodes and Simon Perkins, Adey ended the season with 171 points, as the Panthers finished third in the league standings and went on to win the British Championship playoffs at Wembley with a 6-3 victory over Ayr Bruins in the final.
The side struggled somewhat in subsequent years, but Adey’s attitude and point scoring were a constant high point, as he often battled against the odds without a regular import line mate. In 1991-92, he was joined by the prolific Dan Dorion and helped the Panthers to an Autumn Cup victory over the Humberside Seahawks. Paul enjoyed his best year in terms of points in the 1994-95 season. Paired with Rick Brebant, Adey ended the season with a massive 120 goals and 223 points. After capturing the Autumn Cup, the Panthers looked set to sweep the board but a dip in form late in the season saw them pipped in the league and playoffs.
Season 1996-97 saw the beginning of the Superleague era, and Paul Adey remained with the Panthers in the new import-dominated line up, helping the side to a Benson and Hedges cup win against Ayr. He finished as the team’s top scorer, notching his 1000th point with a goal in a televised game against Cardiff, and was voted onto the all-star team, a notable achievement considering the improvement in the standard of the league. After a disappointing season in 1997-98, Paul returned to top form the following year, in arguably the best Panthers line-up of the modern era. The side won the Benson and Hedges Cup, lost in the finals of the Challenge Cup and playoffs and only a run of injuries prevented a genuine league title challenge. Adey played on a hugely successful line with Greg Hadden and Jarret Zukiwsky, finishing second to Hadden in scoring and earning another ISL all-star team spot.
This was to prove Paul Adey’s swansong in the black and gold. After protracted contract negotiations, he left the team to play for Milan in Italy, before joining Sheffield for the latter part of the following season. After retiring from playing, Paul was appointed co-coach with Alex Dampier for the 2001-02 season, taking over in sole charge for the playoffs that year. Adey was head coach for the next three seasons. Despite building good squads, his teams never seemed to gel consistently and, after alleged dressing room unrest and surviving management ultimatums (and handling the public “one game to save your job” affair with considerable dignity), his services were not retained after the 2004-05 season. The highlight of Adey’s time as coach was the 2004 Challenge Cup victory, when an overtime goal by Kim Ahlroos defeated the Steelers on their own ice (made a nice change!).
There is no doubt that Paul Adey is one of the best players to have appeared for the Nottingham Panthers. He is the club’s all-time leading scorer (828 + 781 = 1609 points) and at the time of his parting had the distinction of having been involved (as player or coach) in every Panthers trophy win in the modern era bar the 1986 Autumn Cup triumph. His attitude and fitness throughout his career were an example to any professional player. While he came in for criticism as coach, his playing record speaks for itself and that is ultimately what we should remember him for – he gave us one thousand, six hundred and nine reasons, after all!
Profile written by Ian Braisby