Roughly a year ago, the Calgary Flames selected Adam Fox from the U.S. National Development Program in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. Fox was coming off a great season in junior, having just set the single-season scoring record for a National Development Program defenseman. To say that expectations were high for his freshman year of college would be an understatement.
Somehow, Fox went to Harvard University and had a better season than anybody could have imagined. His club won their conference regular season and playoff championships and the all-Boston Beanpot tournament. He represented USA Hockey and won a gold medal at the World Juniors. On an individual level, he was named a First-Team All-American and awarded a slew of All-Star, All-Rookie and Best Defensemen honours.
We chatted with Fox following fitness testing at Flames development camp.
You had a hell of a year! What was the whole experience like? It must have been a whirlwind dealing with the school and hockey changes that you did.
Yeah, for sure. It was obviously an adjustment at first, just going to Harvard academically to begin with is pretty tough and to do that with hockey is obviously a lot to handle. And you know, I think I adjusted pretty well. As for the hockey side, playing at the NTDP and getting those exhibition games against the college teams really helped and I think I was able to adjust pretty quickly. We had a great team there and a lot of great players that kinda helped me, you know, from the backend just moving it up to our forwards. They had a lot of skill and were able to bury the puck, so I think it just kinda helped me with my game.
For a lot of folks that don’t get a chance to watch Harvard a lot, we have to rely on numbers to judge how your season went. Did you have numbers in mind for what you wanted to achieve, or was it more things you wanted to do with your game?
Numbers are great, obviously people look at them, but overall just playing good and helping the team win is my main focus. I didn’t really have any expectations going of I wanted to put up X amount of points or do this, I just kinda wanted to help the team win. I spoke to Ray here about goals to set during the season and kinda how to achieve them. We just had a great coaching staff there that really helped me and helped me improve my game throughout the season.
Were there any aspects of your game they focused on?
I think defensively always is something I try to work on. Obviously being a smaller guy it’s something I have to really focus on. I think they really helped me there in the D zone and just being able to play against the bigger, stronger guys in college. I think that’s something they really harped on and it really helped me improve my game.
You were able to accomplish a lot this season. Is there one thing that stands out as your proudest achievement?
Probably the Beanpot. I think that was just an experience… that Harvard won for the first time in 23, 24 years. Just to be able to do that with this group of guys and have that great success that we had there in the season, I think that kinda capped it off, that Beanpot. It was just a great experience.
After such a successful freshman year, how do you challenge yourself as a sophomore?
I think for me, obviously it was a great freshman year but I don’t think I can really latch onto that. It was last year. I think I’ve just got to come back stronger, faster and kinda help the team. Just being a sophomore in my second year, I’m going to be a guy expected to be more of a leader and step up and play more of a role on our team. I just think coming back stronger and faster is the thing I have to focus on, and just trying to have good success during the season.
Is the NCAA Title something you have left to tick off on your resume?
Coming as close as we did and losing the way that we did, with 26 seconds left, it was heartbreaking. I think it just gets you that much more hungry to get back there and really achieve it. I think it’s definitely our goal. I don’t think we should expect anything less than going for a national championship. We should have a pretty good team next year and I’m just looking forward to the whole season.
You’re probably focused on the here and now, but have you thought about when you might want to leave college or what your options are going forward?
I think for me, I’ve just gotta take it year by year. Trying to get stronger, faster and improve my game on a day by day basis. At the moment I’m just focused on our season coming up at Harvard and obviously I’ll speak to the Flames management and development staff to see where they see me and how I can improve my game to get to that next level as quickly as possible. I think for now, it’s just focusing on improving myself and trying to get to that pro game as quick as I can.
It’s probably helpful that the Flames are deep on the blueline at the NHL level, so they don’t really need to rush you.
I think it’s good for my development to be able to not rush myself, to kind of adjust to the pro game and just ease my way in there. Just seeing guys like Andersson and Kylington here and see how they kind of carry themselves. They’ve played the pro game for a little bit now and kind of have that style. Just to be able to take some parts from this camp and see how I can improve my game to get there is kind of big.
Did you do anything special with the gold medal?
Nothing special, just trying to keep that safe. It was obviously a special thing to have so I’m going to remember that for awhile.
Have you chosen a major yet?
Not yet. I’m thinking maybe psychology or economics. One of those two.