FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It feels like an error of accounting that Saturday will be the first time Adam Fox skates in an All-Star Game, and indeed, in some ways it is just that.
Had there been an All-Star Game in 2021, when this event was originally meant to visit South Florida, surely Fox would have been a part of it. That was the season when Fox elevated himself to superstar status, winning the Norris Trophy as a 22-year-old, and at the end of the year, he was named to the NHL’s honorary First All-Star Team.
This weekend, though, Fox gets his first All-Star experience live and in the flesh. It comes just as he is charting a course to fight for his second Norris Trophy, with 48 points to his name as he keys the Rangers’ defense corps.
“It’s awesome,” Fox said Thursday. “Being in Florida, too, I got my parents coming and my grandpa’s gonna be able to come down, too. It’s a special event. Obviously you’re around great players, too. Really excited to get everything going.”
Fox has quietly elevated himself into the current pantheon of New York stars by his sterling, almost innate ability to be where he is needed. Kevin Hayes, who left the Rangers before Fox got there but has played against him constantly on the Flyers, put it best.
“His poise, not a lot of guys in the league have that poise. I don’t want to say it’s risky, cause that’s probably the wrong word, cause it makes it look bad. He seems to be correct every time he does it,” Hayes said. “Maybe it’s a rewarding style, I guess. He’s an unbelievable player.”
Hayes recalled a summer tournament both participated in while Fox was still at Harvard.
“Then all of a sudden, two years later, he’s up for the [Norris] and one of the best defensive players in the league,” Hayes said.
Fox is a stalwart atop the Rangers’ power play, yes, and can command the offensive blue line as well as anyone in the league. But it is his hockey sense and details that have gotten him this far, the nearly nightly occurrence of him being in just the right spot to stop a two-on-one.
“Every night, I look at him like that,” Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin said, putting his hands to his eyes like goggles, “when he tries to make a move. Because I see everything, everybody, but … he sees what other players don’t see.”
Ask Fox what’s improved in the four seasons he’s been in the league and you will get an answer that emphasizes the little things.
“It’s not always gonna be making a great pass,” Fox said. “Sometimes it’s, you just gotta be defensively. Maybe you’re playing against a really skilled player on the other side for most of the game. You gotta not let him score, and that’ll help the team. So I think it’s just finding each game, what you gotta do to help the team as a whole, and I think that’s really where I’m trying to focus game in and game out.”
That is what can help propel the Rangers to another playoff run, something Fox has at the front of his mind after the joy and ultimate disappointment of last season.
“I think once you experience that and got a little taste of it, at least for me, you just want to get back there,” he said.