Oates Gets Hall CallPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
For Adam Oates, Tuesday was a red-letter day of all red-letter days. Early in the afternoon, he was named as the 16th coach in Washington Capitals history. After three years as an assistant coach with Tampa Bay and New Jersey, Oates ascended to the top of the NHL’s coaching ranks. Hours after that announcement was made, Oates was named to an even more elite fraternity: The Hockey Hall of Fame. Eight years after his 19-year playing career came to a close, Oates has been named a Hall of Famer. The classy class of 2012 includes Oates, Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin and Pavel Bure. Oates’ NHL career was a unique one. Bypassed in the NHL Entry Draft because he was slow and small and had never played major junior hockey, Oates was a 20-year-old who was working at a filling station when he was offered a scholarship to RPI in Troy, NY. Oates accepted the scholarship, but even that was nearly derailed because he had accepted a stipend to play in a junior level exhibition game. After having his amateur status reinstated – a process that also required him to serve an eight-game suspension – Oates finally embarked upon the unlikely path that culminated in his election to the Hall today. In his junior year at RPI, Oates rolled up 31 goals and 91 points to help lead the Engineers to an NCAA championship. That’s when the eyes of the NHL finally opened up and saw something well beyond what RPI coach Mike Adessa had once termed, “a stumpy, heavy-footed, poor-skating, no-shooting kid.” Suddenly, more than half the teams in the NHL wanted to sign Oates as a college free agent. Detroit won the bidding war, and Oates joined the Red Wings in 1985-86, scoring his first NHL goal in his first game. Traded to St. Louis in June of 1989, Oates went on to glory with the Blues. He also became an albatross to Red Wings general manager Jimmy Devellano, who said that trading Oates to the Blues was the biggest mistake of his own long, distinguished hockey career. As the set-up man for St. Louis trigger-man Brett Hull, the two flourished together for the better part of three seasons. Oates amassed 228 assists in 195 games with the Blues, and Hull had 228 goals in the same span. Underappreciated financially and never one to keep silent about such injustices, Oates was dealt to Boston on Feb. 7, 1992. With the Bruins, he helped fellow Hall of Famer Cam Neely to a rare 50 goals in 50 games season in 1993-94. Oates came to Boston in a blockbuster six-player deal on March 1, 1997. He spent five seasons in Washington, leading the league in assists twice and helping the Caps to the Stanley Cup final in 1998. Oates was Washington’s captain for two seasons. He was traded to Philadelphia on March 19, 2002. After departing Washington, Oates had one more journey to the Cup final as a member of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003. His last NHL season was 2003-04 when he skated with the Edmonton Oilers. Oates finished his career with some impressive numbers and achievements: • He was a Hobey Baker finalist in 1984-85. • In the 1990s, only Wayne Gretzky (662) had more assists than Oates (636) • He was a six-time Lady Byng finalist, and was a runner-up for the award four straight years • Sixteenth on all-time NHL scoring list (1,420 points). • Thirty-seventh in career NHL games (1,337). Most games and points by any non-drafted player in the era of the draft. • Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr are the only players with more assists per game lifetime than Oates (.81). The guy he was once traded for (Bernie Federko) is eighth on that list at .76. • Led league in assists at age of 38 and 39 in 2000-01 and 2001-02 • He is the only player to center three 50-goal scorers: Hull (86 in 1990-91 and 72 in 1989-90), Neely (50 in 1993-94), and Peter Bondra (52 in 1997-98). • Tied for fifth-most points (71) by a 37-year-old in NHL history, has most points (82) of any 38-year-old in NHL history, and third-most most of any 39-year-old (78, four fewer than Gordie Howe, three fewer than Johnny Bucyk and one more than Ray Whitney in 2011-12) • At age of 38 in 2000-01, Oates led the Caps in scoring for second straight season. He became the oldest player ever to lead the league in assists, and in power-play assists (37), and he had a hand in 36% of Washington’s offense and 56% of its extra-man offense. • Since the NHL started tracking ice time stats in the late 1990s, Oates has the top three ice time figures of any forward aged 37 or older: 1999-00, 2001-02 and 2000-01. Oates is the sixth ex-Capital to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He follows Mike Gartner, Larry Murphy, Rod Langway, Scott Stevens and Dino Ciccarelli. The 2012 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame will be formally inducted at the Hall in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 12. Conveniently for Oates, the Caps are off that day. They play the Rangers in New York on Nov. 14.
During his playing days, Adam Oates was a guy who could beat you in any number of ways. He was a great offensive player, one of the most brilliant playmakers of his era and one of the most prolific in NHL history. He was a stalwart defensive player who took a great deal of pride in that aspect of