Thursday, June 28, 2012
On Tuesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its inductees for 2012, and included in the group of four players was Adam Oates, a Canadian, who took the less travelled route to the NHL at the time by playing college hockey in the United States. While with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, more commonly known as RPI, where he helped win the 1985 NCAA Championship. He graduated with school records for most assists, setting the tone for his NHL career in the process, with 60, points in a season with 91 and career points with 150.
Oates celebrates RPI's national championship
After RPI's championship season, Oates signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Red Wings. He would play four seasons in Detroit before being traded to the St. Louis Blues and beginning his journey around the league. Upon his arrival in St. Louis, he would be paired with Brett Hull, a move that enabled him to immediately score over 100 points for the first of four times in his career, a 24 point improvement over his final season with the Red Wings. During his second season in St. Louis, 1990-91, he would accumulate 90 assists despite playing in only 61 games, which allowed him to raise his career best from 102 points up to 115.
Following a contract hold out the following year, he would continue his trek when he was traded to the Boston Bruins. He would show St. Louis the error of their ways with a career high 45 goals and 145 points to finish third in league scoring in 1992-93, a position he would repeat the next season with 32 goals and 80 assists for 112 points.
Oates during his career best season in 1992-93
The relationship with the Bruins soured and Oates would once more be on the move three seasons later, this time to the Washington Capitals, where he would change his jersey number from #12 to #77 in honor of Bruins teammate Ray Bourque, who remained in Boston.
In Oates first full season in Washington, the Capitals would make it all the way to the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals before falling to his former club, the Red Wings.
Oates shakes hands with Steve Yzerman following the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals
Oates would play six seasons for the Capitals, including being named team captain in 1999. He led the league in assists in 2000-01 and would repeat that feat again the following season, becoming the oldest player to ever do so at age 39. That season would also see him score his 1,000th assist, becoming only the eighth player in NHL history to reach that milestone.
Oates as captain of the Capitals
However, Oates would once again be traded, finishing the season by playing 14 games with the Philadelphia Flyers. 2002-03 would see Oates return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time, now with the Mighty Ducks of Anahiem, before falling in seven games to the New Jersey Devils.
Oates while with the Mighty Ducks
2003-04 would see him add one last opportunity to add to his sweater collection, as he would dress for his seventh and final club, the Edmonton Oilers. His final career totals would stand at 341 goals and 1079 assists for 1420 points in 1337 games and Oates would play in five NHL All-Star Games. His playmaking ability would see him total more assists in the 1990's than any other player, save for Wayne Gretzky. Oates had the most points of any eligible player not in the Hockey Hall of Fame up until his election this week.
In addition to being voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Oates' memorable day continued with him being named head coach of the Washington Capitals, his first NHL head coaching position.
Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 Boston Bruins Adam Oates jersey as worn during Oates career best season during which he had a career high of not only 45 goals, but also 97 assists for 142 points.
The Bruins wore this jersey style for the first time in 1974-75, adding shoulder patches in 1976 and names on the back a year later. The jerseys then remained unchanged all the way through the 1994-95 season, and frankly never should have been replaced, as they would now be on the same plane as the unchanging sweaters of the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Rangers and Canadiens.
Here is Oates talking about his favorite memories of playing in St. Louis.
And a few less speaking lines this time around...
That's really about it for Oates on YouTube. He has over 1,000 NHL assists, will now be in the Hall of Fame, yet can't get on YouTube, so here's your homework assignment - someone needs to make a career highlight video of Adam Oates and his undeniable playmaking abilities.