By John Vogl
PITTSBURGH – Luke Adam’s demotion to the minors last season lingered in his mind a long time. He thought about it during the final three months of the season. He pondered it during the summer. He contemplated it for the opening five months this season.
Finally, within the past two months, the Sabres’ prospect stopped thinking about getting back to Buffalo and focused on playing for Rochester. It helped because Adam will be back in a Sabres uniform tonight.
Adam’s long wait for another NHL opportunity will end when the Sabres visit the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will be his first game since Feb. 8, 2012, when a decent rookie season turned into what was beginning to look like a permanent demotion.
“I don’t know if I would have thought it would have took this long, but I guess patience paid off,” Adam said in Consol Energy Center. “I’m happy to be back and excited."
Adam had 10 goals and 20 points in 52 games last season, but he fell out of favor with former coach Lindy Ruff and got sent down to the Amerks. He stayed there while players such as Kevin Porter, Brian Flynn, Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp came up.
He wondered whether his NHL time in the organization had passed him by.
“It’s always in the back of your mind, but I think I was thinking about it too much, and that’s what got me in trouble,” Adam said. “The last month and a half, two months I’ve completely even wiped the idea away and just been focusing on my game down there. I think it’s come a long way in that time, and my confidence is back to where it was.
“I feel like I’m starting to control games and control the puck a lot more. It’s a good feeling.”
Adam, who has split time between center and left wing, will be a winger tonight against the Penguins. He said he’s been playing in the middle in Rochester, where he has 14 goals and 32 points in 64 games.
“I think I’m just more mature as a player on both ends of the rink,” Adam said. “I’m really focused on more of the little aspects of my game, and I think I’m a much better player now, even in the last little while in the American League.
“I know my points haven’t really been there, as high I’d like or as high as they used to be, but I’m getting opportunities and playing well defensively. There’s been some tough breaks, but that’s hockey. That’s the game. Like I said, I’m excited to be back here.”