Adam Burt: From Hockey to Holy

In the chaos of life, we often find our purpose in unexpected places. For Adam Burt, it was the ice rink and the pulpit that shaped his remarkable story. From a broken home to the NHL, Adam's resilience is a testament to facing difficulties head-on.

Fighting on the Ice left him beaten while the pulpit healed his soul.

We find our purpose in the most unlikely of places. Our head is forced to pivot and look in a different direction. It may not be something you want, being as foreign and unfamiliar as throwing a ball with your non-dominant hand. Our resistance is born out of our personal conflict.  When we are met by difficulties and stare them down, face-to-face, we find out Faith’s True identity can be. Anytime we are met with an unknown circumstance, we have a tendency to react as if we were a child. Those raw emotions instinctually bubble up and take over our soul.

Adam Burt came into my life at just the right time.  I was searching without knowing I was looking. Wandering in the wilderness with no waypoints and no compass. A simple phrase such as “I’m praying for you” turned my life upside down.  It took a man of God disguised as a retired professional hockey player to save a wretch like me.

On January 15, 1969, Adam Burt was born in Detroit Michigan. Most kids get multicolored toys for Christmas, Adam was given a hockey stick. Coming from a long lineage of hockey players, Adam’s grandfather played with the likes of Gordie Howe amongst other legends of the game. it seemed Adam‘s destiny was carved in stone, but it should’ve been written in clay. 

At the age of 11, the Burt family was fractured by the divorce of his parents, leaving Adam and his 2 siblings wrapped inside what some would refer to as a broken home. Adam‘s father received custody of all three children as his mother‘s life spiraled out of control. Mrs. Burt was being strangled by the obstacles that life threw her way and could no longer breathe. Wandering into a church, and hearing the gospel was a shot of oxygen that was so desperately needed in a chaotic time. Watching this from a distance, the transformation of his mother, young Adam, received the Lord at the tender age of 12.

While the matriarch of the family found her way, Adam had to divide his time between Jesus and the ice. Adam refers to his early days as a hockey player saying that he wasn’t very good. His saving grace was that every time he fell he got back up.

Adams’ resiliency soon turned into talent and at 16 years old a decision was made for him to attempt to make his dreams come true. Adam moved to Canada, the Mecca of hockey, to pursue a profession that only the top one percent in the globe are able to attain.  In Canada, hockey is a religion, this is as commonly known in the great white north as the fact that beer is one of the main food groups. 

At 16 years old, the young Adam Burt was a celebrity. Focusing solely on hockey and ready to take it to the next level.  In 1987, the NHL draft took place in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, and Adam was projected to go in the first round. The first round came and went and no team had called his name. Finally late in the second round, Adam got drafted by the Hartford Whalers.  This was his first come to Jesus moment where he sees his life almost veer out of control, with him at the steering wheel.

To attain your dreams as one thing, to hang onto your dream as another. Adam was lucky enough to play for 14 seasons in the NHL playing for teams like the Atlanta Thrashers and Philadelphia Flyers. Each day afraid and fearful that his job could be taken away. Engaging in over 95 fights, three crucial overtime victories, the unique distinction to score the last goal in the last millennium, landing a small part in the hit comedy The Mighty Ducks, and even once squaring off with the great Wayne Gretzky. Once his body began to physically quit, questions entered Adams’s mind compelling him to ask God, “I’m living a good life by your word. I’m remaining faithful to my wife, reading my Bible, and trying to be a good person. Why are you taking my career away?” What Adam didn’t realize is that he was asking God the wrong questions.

The one definite truth of professional sports is that your career will eventually end. When the doctors told Adam he could no longer play, he took a deep dive into discovering his true identity. He had been a hockey player for the better part of his life, and now it was over. Then Adams’ head turned.  Leaning into his faith as he realized that he had always been a man of Jesus, and that will never change, that will never end.  A friend of his, Pastor Ron Lewis, would bring Adam around as he preached to different churches, even allowing Adam to say a few words. His stat as a professional hockey would turn heads for a short time, but the power of his message would soon pull them in to listen further.

Hockey is what Adam did, his love for the Lord is what he is.  He is transforming lives, I can personally testify to that, through his service as head pastor at Every Nation Church New Jersey church in Morris, Plains, New Jersey.  He embodies leadership while delivering a message to the weary travelers that come to see him preach every Sunday.

Professional hockey allowed Adam an opportunity, preaching the gospel has allowed him to live. Giving hope to the fallen, helping them to get back up just as he did as a young child, just as his mother did when she couldn’t find her way. Adam Burt is a friend, a mentor and a role model, not because of his abilities in the hockey rink, but because of the strength and delivery of the word of God. Still echoing inside of my head years later are those profound words that grab this writer, “I’m praying for you.”

Kevin P. Donaldson
Kevin P. Donaldson

An accomplished author, seasoned Motivational Speaker and Podcast Host, Kevin P. Donaldson is known for transforming the lives of audiences. His talks are attended by people of all ages and backgrounds. Kevin's approach toward finding success and healing is approached by embracing your pain and running toward it head-on.

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