Adam Oates

Adam Oates’ five greatest accomplishments

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In anticipation of Monday’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, PHT is taking an in-depth look at each of the four main entrants. 

While he never won a Stanley Cup, Adam Oates has been at the heart of many great moments in hockey history. Being an Oates fan since I was a kid I can’t list them all off, but here’s five of them that will have you wondering what took the Hall of Fame voters so long to put him in.

1. He helped Brett Hull score 86 goals

Rewind it back to 1990-91 during Oates’ short time with the St. Louis Blues and look at what he did while lined up with the “Golden Brett.” Oates finished the year with 90 assists and 115 points while Hull poured in a career-high 86 goals. During the two and a half seasons he played for the Blues, Hull had the three greatest goal scoring seasons of his career (72, 86, 70). Coincidence?

2. He was the set-up man for three 50 in 50 seasons

Twice in Hull’s career he scored 50 in 50 (or less). In his 86-goal season, he scored 50 in 49 with Oates’ help. The following year, Hull potted 50 in 50 on the nose and did it before Oates was shipped off to Boston.

With the Bruins, Oates would help Cam Neely reach legendary status scoring 50 in 49 games in the 93-94 season. Of course, Neely did it while playing on bad knees that kept him out of action for half the year.

50 in 50 (or less) has only been done officially eight times and unofficially four other times (Neely’s being one of them). Factoring in on three of them is astounding.

3. In case you didn’t guess, he’s an all-time great assist man

Think of the all-time greatest set-up men in NHL history. Obviously there’s Wayne Gretzky. Even Mark Messier is up there too. So what about Oates? He’s sixth all-time in assists.

For a guy who was never really regarded as a superstar talent, Oates just kept quietly doing his thing until he finished with 1,079 helpers. That’s more than Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne, Joe Sakic, or Doug Gilmour — all fellow Hall of Famers.

Not only that, he was in one of the most awkward commercials in NHL history.

4. He was once traded for a future Hall of Famer

Oates started his career with the Detroit Red Wings playing alongside Steve Yzerman. How did he not stay there and wind up winning his elusive Stanley Cup? Because he, along with current Senators coach Paul MacLean, were traded to the Blues for Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney.

Federko played one season with the Red Wings before retiring and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002. Meanwhile McKegney was traded to Quebec after 31 games. How about a do-over Detroit?

5. The championship he did win

While he never won a Stanley Cup (he appeared in two finals: 1998 with Washington, 2003 with Anaheim), he did win an NCAA national championship with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY in 1985. That year, he merely scored 31 goals and added 60 assists (91 points) in the Engineers’ 38 games. His assist and points marks are still school records today.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”