Despite the lockout continuing and negotiations once again souring, the NHL gathered tonight to induct its 2012 class into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Former Bruin Adam Oates was among the inductees along with Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure and Mats Sundin.
If you were a hockey fan in the early 90’s, you know that Adam Oates was a big part of the Boston Bruins. Never one to underestimate his own value, Oates joined the B’s early in 1992 after being traded from the St. Louis Blues for Stephane Quintal and long-time Bruin Craig Janney, after demanding his contract be renegotiated. It didn’t take long for him to make an impact in the black and gold, as he posted 30 points (10G, 20A) in 26 regular season games, and then went on to add 19 more points in 15 playoff games. One of his biggest goals of the season came in game 2 of the Adams Division Semifinals against the Buffalo Sabres, as he scored immediately off an offensive zone face-off in overtime to help the Bruins tie the series at one game a piece. The Bruins would go on to win the series in seven games, and they would reach the Wales Conference Final before being swept by the Penguins.
The next season, in his first full season with the Bruins, #12 solidified his place as one of the game’s best playmakers. Playing on a line with young guns Joe Juneau and Dmitri Kvartalnov (s/t if you’re old enough to remember these guys), Oates had personal bests in goals with 45, and assists with 97. His 142 points would be a career high as well. Juneau and Kvartalnov would both score 30 goals (Juneau finished with 32), and all during a season where Bruins legend Cam Neely only played 13 games.
A year later, Neely would return, and with Oates’ help would go on to reach one of the game’s greatest feats, scoring a ridiculous 50 goals in only 49 games. Oates would post his second 100+ point season with 32 goals and 80 assists, adding another 12 points in the playoffs before the Bruins were eliminated in the second round. Oates and Neely would also star in the memorable instructional video “From Oates to Neely to You” (which I proudly owned).
That would unfortunately be the beginning of the end of Adam Oates in a Bruins uniform though. He would go on to play two more full seasons, but the Bruins underachieved in both, getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both years. With Neely retiring after the 95-96 season, Oates found life without Cam to be a little too tough, and made waves after speaking out about the Bruins’ front office midway through the 1997 season. He was traded shortly after to the Washington Capitals, ushering in a new era as Anson Carter, Jason Allison and ‘The Mask’ Jim Carey were sent the other way.
Oates would go on to play for eight more seasons in the league, and when all was said and done he finished with an amazing 1,420 points, including 1,079 assists. The five time All Star lead the NHL in assists three times, and centered three 50 goal scorers (Neely, along with Brett Hull and Peter Bondra). He was an underrated goal scorer as well, reaching the 20 goal mark in five seasons, three with the Bruins. He was an icon with Neely during his time in Boston, where he played some of his best hockey. The call to the Hall is a well deserved honor, and one we’re proud to say reflects significant time in the Spoked ‘B.’ Stick taps on a great career.
Here are highlights of Oates’ 1992 Game 2 face-off game winner against the Sabres (towards the end of the video). You’ll also see a Murray-Ruzicka-Juneau power-play unit…awesome.
S/T to “I Gotta Tell Ya” blog for finding this Oates gem as well. Pay attention Looch, this is how it’s done: