Adam Fox doesn’t mind being known as the “Jewish athlete from Long Island.” In fact, the New York Rangers third-year defenseman, who hails from Jericho, N.Y., embraces the title.
As he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) back in February, “If a young Jewish kid sees me play in the NHL, and maybe it prompts him to get into hockey … I think things like that, and seeing different types of people play the sport, are important.”
Indeed, thanks to Fox’s rapid ascent to stardom, there could be quite a few young Jewish kids on Long Island gravitating toward hockey in the coming years. Last season, Fox became the first NHL player since Bobby Orr to win the Norris Trophy in his second season.
While the Orr comparisons may be a bit premature, the 24-year-old, better known as “Foxy” inside the Rangers’ dressing room, is one of the league’s most scintillating young skaters, not to mention the first Jewish NHL player to win a major individual award.
“He [Fox] is an unbelievable player,” says teammate Barclay Goodrow. “He controls the game. His hockey IQ is out of this world. He makes plays on the ice that half of us couldn’t even see from the bench. He’s a special player and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
While hesitant to heap gushing praise on any individual player, New York head coach Gerard Gallant does acknowledge that Fox “makes great plays, he’s talented, he’s a great power play guy, he does it all for us.”
Fox, who grew up attending synagogue and had his hockey-themed bar mitzvah at Jericho Jewish Center — a Conservative synagogue on Long Island — always dreamt of starring at Madison Square Garden for the Broadway Blueshirts.
Coming into his own as an elite player for the Atlantic Youth Hockey League’s Long Island Gulls, Fox regularly made the 30-mile trip into the city with his father and grandfather to see the Rangers play, the latter of whom had seen Hy Buller, a standout Jewish defenseman, hold down the blue line for New York back in the 1950s.
Initially, though, it appeared that the affable and polite Long Island native was headed outside the Big Apple. After the Calgary Flames selected Fox as the 66th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, he matriculated at Harvard, where he ended up playing three years while majoring in psychology (he later took online courses to graduate).
In 2018, after being unable to come to contract terms with Fox, the Flames traded his NHL playing rights to the Carolina Hurricanes. Less than a year later, Carolina found itself in the same contractual impasse and dealt Fox to the Rangers, who this fall inked him to a seven-year, $66.5 million extension — the largest in league history for a defenseman transitioning from an entry-level contract.
And now, this spring, Fox, who back in February was named an All-Star for the first time and is once again in Norris Trophy contention, appears primed to help the Rangers win their first Cup since June ’94.