Penguins’ Adams pulls off assist of lifetime |

Penguins’ Adams pulls off assist of lifetime

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Craig Adams puts a move on the Canadiens' P.K. Subban during the third period Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Penguins defensive specialist Craig Adams has opened eyes by scoring three times in five games this season.

He recorded an assist of a lifetime in the spring.

After learning that the brother of a close friend, Hurricanes broadcaster Tripp Tracy, was imprisoned in Venezuela, Adams used a connection to trigger a government intervention that set the man free.

Adams said he received the news about Tracy’s brother, Tim, following the Penguins’ loss in New Jersey in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Tracy, who was a senior goalie at Harvard when Adams was a freshman, told Adams that Tim had been charged with espionage.A documentary filmmaker, Tim Tracy said he had been filming a project that captured the plight of those who opposed the Hugo Chavez regime. When he attempted to leave, he was arrested.

“People told me I was reckless for being in Venezuela,” Tim Tracy said. “But I felt a connection with the people there, a bond.”

The Tracy family contacted the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela and was told Tim had been arrested. The embassy said it was unclear whether Tim was alive.

“I was able to speak with my family at first,” Tim said. “But the calls were being monitored, and I knew it. I had to be so careful with what was said. It was a scary, wild, surreal situation.”

Tripp Tracy called Adams, whose father-in-law, Paul Cellucci, was the only man he believed could help.

Cellucci, the former governor of Massachusetts and former U.S. ambassador to Canada, was in the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, but Tracy was desperate.

“I had spent time with Paul and knew he was a great man,” Tracy said. “So I reached out to Craig, hoping he could help in some way.”

Carolina played in Pittsburgh two nights later. Tripp Tracy could barely concentrate on hockey. Then he saw Adams.

“I was standing outside the Penguins’ locker room when Craig came off the ice following the morning skate,” Tracy said. “He could see I was a mess, but he never wavered. He has the quiet confidence about him, and when I needed it most, he stayed so calm. He made me feel like everything was going to be OK. There’s a reason Pittsburgh put him on the ice in the final moments before they won the Cup in 2009. He always keeps it together.”

Adams already had contacted Cellucci, who could communicate only via email at that stage of the disease.

According to Tripp Tracy, Cellucci directed the Tracy family to contact Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was Tim Tracy’s congressman. From there, Cellucci had a number of communications with his former political rival, Secretary of State John Kerry. He also reached out to two former Democratic lawmakers from Massachusetts — Bill Delahunt and Joe Kennedy — who had knowledge of Venezuela.

While attempts at a resolution dragged on, Adams kept Tripp Tracy calm.

“Craig was amazing,” Tracy said. “He’s trying to win another Stanley Cup during the playoffs, and his wife, Anne, was pregnant at the time. And they’re both telling me that, whatever I need, whenever I need it, all I have to do is call them.”

Tim Tracy said Adams was integral in orchestrating his release.

“I appreciate Craig so much,” he said. “The last time he saw me, I was dancing like an idiot in a nightclub. … I’m sure it was a surprise for him to look in the newspaper and see that the guy who was dancing in the nightclub is the guy who is being accused of being a spy in Venezuela.”

Delahunt said Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jose Jaua wanted badly to speak with Kerry at a June meeting in Guatemala. This was the opening that was needed.

“There is a situation that might be an opportunity for us to get Timmy out,” Delahunt said he told the Tracy family.

He also said that if the plan didn’t work, he would be “very worried that it isn’t going to happen for a long time.”

Though not privy to the high-ranking conversations, Delahunt and Tripp Tracy said they were told Venezuela essentially was informed that, for any talks with Kerry to take place, Tim Tracy was to be released to the United States. By this time, Tim had spent a month in prison — including some days in notorious El Rodeo — and had lost 30 pounds.

“Some of the things that happen to people in Venezuela tell you how horrible people can be,” Tim Tracy said. “Then you see what Paul Cellucci did for me, and you become inspired seeing how great people can be.”

A few days later, Cellucci died at 65.

“Paul did those sorts of things all the time to help people,” Adams said. “He never got any credit for it. Just the kind of guy he was.”

Tripp Tracy insists Adams deserves credit, too.

“I saw Craig score that first goal of the season in Pittsburgh’s first game,” Tracy said. “I couldn’t stop smiling. I know Paul was looking down on him on that night. Paul is a hero, and you couldn’t ask for a better friend than Craig Adams.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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