Forward Adam Cracknell joins the Silver Knights for his 18th professional season with the same aim as he has had for the prior 17: to help the team succeed in any way that he can. His individual contributions to success over the past two decades consistently reflect that ethos.
Cracknell joins the Knights after back-to-back 21-goal seasons with the Bakersfield Condors and Tucson Roadrunners. He additionally represented Hockey Canada at the 2018-19 Spengler Cup and the 2022 Winter Olympics.
However, his signing with the Silver Knights isn’t only a reflection of Cracknell’s longtime success. It’s also something of a homecoming.
Cracknell played two professional seasons with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL from 2006 to 2008. The Vegas hockey landscape has become far better since those seasons, and so has Cracknell. But one thing remains unchanged – it’s good to be playing hockey in the Valley.
“I think it’s very exciting. Life’s a little bit different now from being 21. I’m going into my 38 year old season now. But obviously I’m very happy to be playing here,” Cracknell said. “I want to do whatever I can to contribute to the team’s wins, and to build success here. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that’s what I’ll do.”
There’s no doubt that Cracknell will be instrumental in contributing to the team’s wins. In addition to his 21-goal seasons – marking two of five professional seasons scoring 20 or more goals – he also recorded 53 points in 64 games last year. But individual statistics are far from Cracknell’s mind whenever he talks about the success he wants to build here.
“Sure, I think it’s important to have personal goals set. But we also know that having success is never individual,” he said. “You need your linemates and your team to support you – any individual success you have is going to be team-based. And team success is the most important thing you can have.”
He’s also looking forward to contributing to the team as a leader, on and off the ice. Mentorship is familiar territory for him: Cracknell served as captain for the 2022-23 Roadrunners, both captain and alternate captain for the Peoria Rivermen, and alternate captain for the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL.
“I hope that I can help mentor young players coming into the organization. It’s a very good league, you have to learn to be a pro. I had to learn that my first year in Las Vegas. Obviously it’s not always an easy place to do that,” Cracknell said.
“Guys are looking to make that step up to the NHL, or even secure a spot in the AHL, and it’s something I can help them learn.”
He’s confident that the culture built here by the entire Knights organization will make that job an easy one.
“It’s obviously a great organization here in Vegas. [The VGK] had amazing success this past season, so the standards are set pretty high. I want to help players individually and lead by example, and I’ve seen that here [with the Knights],” he added.
“I want to play for as long as I can, and pushing those guys to be better helps me, too. If they say ‘oh, there’s something I should be doing better, I want to be better at this,’ I should be doing that as well. So I hold myself to a high standard, and hopefully help them do similarly.”
It helps when those high standards are familiar. Cracknell’s signing with the Silver Knights isn’t just a return to Las Vegas; it’s also another opportunity to work alongside head coach Ryan Craig. Craig and Cracknell were teammates on the 2014-15 Springfield Falcons.
“It’s going to be great [to play for Ryan Craig], and I’m looking forward to getting to see him and his family again. I’m so happy for the success he’s had with the Knights and the success that he had just before retiring, winning the Calder Cup with Cleveland,” he said.
But Cracknell’s enthusiasm to work alongside Craig isn’t just their personal friendship. He also believes in Craig’s approach to success, echoing sentiments expressed by Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon and Silver Knights GM Tim Speltz.
“He’s always had the winning attitude. He’s going to bring some great experience to a young team. I know his expectations, and I think we’re really similar in that aspect.”
Cracknell is confident that those shared expectations will translate to success for the Silver Knights. The hockey postseason is grueling, but having leaders that have been there before is instrumental to a team’s success – especially a young one. Cracknell brings 84 games of professional playoff experience to the organization, including 10 postseason games in the NHL.
“We’ve all watched or played in the NHL and AHL playoffs before – in any sport, it’s a short window for success. If we can hold a certain standard throughout the season, and prepare ourselves for that, I think it helps going into the playoffs. Especially in the AHL, where the series is sometimes best-of-three,” Cracknell said.
“Mistakes get magnified in those games, and so do your level of play and attention to detail. You need to always bring your best so that you’re ready for the postseason.”
That postseason preparation is also one more reason to return to Vegas in the 15 years since Cracknell last played here. He wants to add to the city’s trophy collection.
“There’s some unfinished business here, after losing in the ECHL Finals my final year with the Wranglers. I’m really looking forward to just getting back and hopefully winning [the Calder Cup] with Henderson.”