Thunder Bay has a long history of producing outstanding hockey players and coaches who have gone on to gain acclaim in the NHL. Such is the case with John James 'Jack' Adams who, born in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) in 1895, went on to become an outstanding hockey player, as well as, one of the most successful executives in the history of the National League.
Adams turned professional with the Toronto Arenas in 1918 at the age of 23. While with the Vancouver Millionaires with the Pacific Coast League, Adams claimed the scoring title with 24 goals and 18 assists in just 24 games. He went on to play with the Toronto St. Pats and the Stanley Cup-winning Ottawa team of 1926-27 alongside such players as King Clancy and Frank Nighbor.
Following his 9-year NHL career, Adams joined the Detroit Red Wings organization in 1927 as their manager-coach. He remained with the Red Wings for 35 years, leading them to 12 regular championships and 7 Stanley Cup victories. In fact, only 7 times in the entire 35 years that Adams was with them did the Red Wings miss the playoffs. It was also under Jack Adams that one of the greatest hockey players of all time, Gordie Howe, was developed. Adams is also credited with developing the farm system of hockey.
Since Jack Adams' departure from the Red Wings in 1962, they have won the Stanley Cup only twice (1997 and 1998), 42 years after their last such victory in 1955. In 1959 he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Michigan Hall of Fame in 1955. In 1966 he became the first recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy for his outstanding service to hockey. In 1974 the 'Jack Adams Award' was first presented to the NHL coach who contributed the most to his team's success, in memory of this outstanding man's contribution to the game.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 28, 1985