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.