The hockey Hall of Fame will announce its 2010 inductees on Tuesday, with Joe Nieuwendyk looking like the only lock to get the call. The cast of eligible players is fairly impressive this season with several former stars up for consideration including; Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Dave Andreychuk, Doug Gilmour, Phil Housley, Dino Ciccarelli, Pierre Turgeon, Tom Barrasso, and a bevy of others worthy of induction.
The debate to include Bure and Lindros is a good one, but it could be a long shot for either to be inducted this season. Both Lindros and Bure were dominant players at one time, but each saw his career derailed by injury far too early. I’d make the case for both to be in the Hall of Fame, just not this year. Nieuwendyk appears to be the only unanimous choice for 2010, although it’s entirely possible that Dino Ciccarelli will find induction on Tuesday.
The list of eligible players is an impressive one, although lacking the surefire superstar power of 2009′s class there’s no shortage of celebrated and accomplished players itching for the nod in 2010. One player that has failed to garner the attention that he’s due is Adam Oates. A native of Weston, ON, Oates chose to go to college rather than play junior hockey in Canada. A product of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Oates entered the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and developed into one of the best playmaking centremen in the league while playing behind Steve Yzerman. Oates was packaged with Paul MacLean and traded to St. Louis for Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney in of the most lopsided trades of all-time.
That Oates has has been bereft of the same attention given to some of his peers, can probably be attributed to his not-so flashy style and the fact that he played well beyond his prime without ever capturing a Stanley Cup. It was in St. Louis where Adam Oates would become a hockey household name when he teamed with Brett Hull to help the sniper to goal totals of 72, 86, and 70 over three seasons. Proving he was more than just a sidekick lucky enough to be feeding the puck to an elite sniper, Oates would have his greatest statistical season with Boston in 1992-93 by finishing third in overall scoring with 142 points. Hull, for the record, would never again reach the 70-goal plateau after Oates’ departure from St. Louis.
Oates’ career assist totals are staggering at 1079, good enough for sixth on the all-time leaders’ list. Through the 1990s, only one player assisted on more goals than Adam Oates; Wayne Gretzky. Since 1997 (when the NHL increased the tracking of statistics), Oates managed 56.9 face-off winning percentage. That puts him in the top-20 among both active and inactive players. As much as I personally despise the saying; the stats don’t lie. Adam Oates deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and he deserves to go now.
Adam Oates played 1337 NHL games, and totaled 341 goals along with his 1079 assists with seven different teams. He was a six time finalist for the Lady Byng award, and leads all retired Hall of Fame eligible players in points. Will the Hall call for Oates? He’d certainly have my vote, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.