Adam Payerl has been one of the quiet yet great stories to the 2015-16 Milwaukee Admirals season. When you look back to pre-season camp Payerl was an invitee from the Cincinnati Cyclones where he had signed in the off-season after his tenure within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization came to an end. No immediate AHL offers were on the table so he signed on with the Cyclones to an ECHL contract and accepted an invite to test the waters in Milwaukee.
It was apparent quickly that the coaching staff of the Admirals loved what Payerl brought to the table as a player and as an individual off the ice. After a solid start his PTO contract turned into a standard contract in mid-November. What has this guy that no other AHL teams were interested in been able to produce as a member of the Admirals? Payerl is fifth on the team’s scoring list with 20 points (7 goals, 13 assists) in 41 games. Not too shabby for a pre-season camp invitee, eh?
Admirals Roundtable: What were your inspirations to play hockey?
Adam Payerl: I don’t know. I think just growing up I think I saw kids on my street playing road hockey outside – just roller blades and shooting on a net. Decided I wanted to play and asked my parents if I could go sign up for hockey.
AR: When did you realize that you were going to play hockey for a career?
Payerl: Sort of when you’re playing junior hockey. You kind of see, as a young guy, you see guys around you getting drafted – and signing – and moving on to the next level. You can kind of see at that point it’s a possibility. As my junior career went on, when I was kind of eighteen to twenty, I kind of realized I could do this for a living. The opportunity worked out for me and I did.
AR: Who was the first famous player that you met?
Payerl: [long pause] (AR: It wasn’t Sidney Crosby was it?) Uhh, no. I played juniors with a guy. His dad was Shayne Corson. So that was the first kind of guy I met kind of personally, I feel like growing up, I met Wayne Gretzky getting an autograph and stuff like that but nothing – I didn’t have a conversation with him. (AR: So you were in line at like a thing or was that an actual skate meet and greet kind of thing?) It was like our team, when we were younger, he’s got a restaurant in Toronto – Gretzky’s – he was just there that night. Kind of came out and said “hi” to our team and signed a couple of autographs.
AR: What’s the greatest hockey moment of your career so far?
Payerl: Probably my first NHL game. That was in Colorado. It was a pretty awesome experience. (AR: Now, I always kind of ask this because it seems like this is always true. The game isn’t the thing you get nervous for it’s the pre-game skate where the nerves are really rocking. Is that true?) Yeah, kind of. I sort of had a travel day and I got to Colorado before the team did so I had that whole night. It was a pretty long night. Kind of had the jitters. Took me awhile to fall asleep. I was pretty nervous and stuff but it ended up working out that day. It was surreal. It was a great experience. I played well. And it was good. (AR: And that was with the Pittsburgh Penguins, yeah?) Yeah. (AR: I’m going to probably annoy all my readers, both in Milwaukee and in Nashville, by saying I am a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. So, talk a bit about that team and that locker room because it seems like such a fun group.) Yeah, it was awesome. So many superstars in that team. I mean you go through training camps and stuff so I had met most of the guys. So I already had that awe moment type thing. But, when I got there then, it was kind of all business. You kind of meet the guys, it was still a surreal experience, but there’s lots of good guys in that locker room.
AR: What was the most memorable goal that you’ve scored?
Payerl: Huh.. (AR: You have to think about that one?) Yeah, I mean.. most memorable.. [pause] Probably, it was a playoff game against Binghamton a couple of years ago. It was to tie the game. I just remember the play. It came down off the rush and I kind of shot through the screen – it was a big goal. Tied the game up.
AR: What is the strangest game that you’ve played in?
Payerl: Hmm. (AR: You have a couple of AM games this year to choose from.) Yeah, those 10:30 games – those were both a first. We played them both in about a week span. Yeah, probably those. (AR: How much of a jolt was that to the system? Because normally that’s like when you do a little bit of a practice.) Yeah, I mean it was definitely an adjustment. You got to make sure you get up extra early – make sure you’re ready for the game so guys were drinking lots of coffee and jumping in the cold tub to wake up in the morning. (AR: Was that harder or easier than what happened in Lake Erie where you’re basically playing two games in under twenty-four hours?) I’d rather play a morning game than two in twenty-four hours. (AR: Because when I saw the schedule push that far up on the Saturday with the 12 PM game I thought – well, that’s not fair.) Yeah it was definitely a quick turn-around but both teams were in the same boat. Everyone is grinding the same way.
AR: What is the most embarrassing moment of your career?
Payerl: Hard to say. Can’t think of one off the top of my head. (AR: A guy like Scott Ford would come up with, instantly, falling down.) [laughs] (AR: A lot. Even [Dean Evason] said falling down.) Maybe in warm-ups if you fall down all the boys give it to you in the room after warm-ups. So I think everyone has done that once but it happened to me a couple years ago. (AR: Just blame the skate. Bad steel.) Yeah.
AR: What is your most painful hockey moment?
Payerl: I had surgery on my finger a couple of years ago. So the post-surgery was pretty painful. That was probably the worst. (AR: Was it a break or-) It was like a tendon ruptured. So I had to get the tendon repaired. (AR: Do you even know how you ended up doing that?) It happened in a fight. It was just kind of a bad bounce – freak injury that you don’t see very often. It was frustrating at the same time after the surgery, that was my first surgery ever, so the recovery was a little painful at the start.
AR: What are your favorite hockey uniforms?
Payerl: We have pretty sweet uniforms here with the Admirals. The new ones we got this year they’re pretty cool. I think I like the dark blue ones the best.
AR: Who is the funniest player that you’ve encountered?
Payerl: I’ve played with some funny guys over the years. [Tom Kostopoulos] was the captain in Wilkes-Barre my last couple of years and he was a pretty funny guy. He’d always be one to come up with pranks and stuff on the road that were pretty funny.
AR: What’s been your favorite part of Milwaukee since you joined the team?
Payerl: Aside from the hockey part I’d probably say we have a great group of guys in the locker room. Seeing how crazy everyone gets for the Packers is pretty awesome – pretty cool to see that. (AR: Did you become a Packers fan?) Yeah, I think I have. We went out to Lambeau Field earlier this season -we weren’t able to get tickets because it was sold out- it turned out to be like a 20 degree celsius day so it was a really warm day. We didn’t get tickets but we went all the way out there and had a blast. (AR: Celsius?) That’s probably like 75 or 80 I want to say?
AR: What is your favorite food?
Payerl: I mean you’ve got to say pizza. Pizza is always a pleaser but I definitely look forward to pre-game meals, just chicken and pasta, because you don’t really eat that most days but on game-days you eat it and it’s probably one of my favorites.
AR: What is your favorite non-hockey hobby?
Payerl: I watch a lot of Netflix. A lot of TV series and stuff like that. (AR: Now you have to say what shows.) Right now I’m in the midst of watching Lost and there are so many episodes! You have to put in a lot of hours to get through it. So, I’m kind of grinding my way through that. (AR: I’ve actually never watched Lost. It builds and it has an amazing finish, too.) Yeah, I was that guy until a couple months ago. I’m still working my way through it but I recommend it. (AR: And Netflix is getting rid of my show Doctor Who. So.. I can’t recommend Doctor Who anymore. They officially get rid of it in February.) Aww.
AR: What is your favorite non-hockey memory?
Payerl: Stick with the sports theme. I grew up playing lacrosse. I played junior lacrosse until I was twenty. Probably just in general playing lacrosse at a high level like that. Used to play in my hometown so that was a pretty cool experience.
AR: What do you see yourself doing after hockey?
Payerl: Haven’t thought that far ahead so.. (AR: This is why I always ask this question last.) Yeah. Take things as they come. Right now I’m focused on being a hockey player.
Thanks much to Adam Payerl for taking the time to do this interview. Five Days of Fifteen is officially done. Now Fifteen will be uploaded more casually here and there. The shortlist of players you’ve suggested is almost at an end so please comment down below with more suggestions!