Finally

For the few years I was scribbling nonsense on the Internet before I landed over at NBCSports.com’s ProHockeyTalk, every June would turn into a soap box for me to sound off on why Adam Oates belonged in the Hockey Hall of Fame. His case was always easy to make. No, really, it was super easy to make.

Now? Now he’s a Hockey Hall of Famer.

The fight is over and a childhood hero is enshrined for eternity. Bias accepted here, there’s never been a doubt as to Oates’ career being Hall-worthy.

I am as happy as a hockey fan can be. The complaining, the indignant stat-prattling, the case-making, the whining about it all… It’s over. I don’t have to crow about an open-and-shut case anymore.

There’s no need to talk about the injustice of it all and continue alternating between banging my head against the wall and shouting from the mountain tops. Adam Oates: Hall of Famer.

Back in late September during the preseason, I wanted to interview Oates about being snubbed by the Hall. With him being the Devils assistant coach and it also being the team’s first preseason game of the year, the Hall was the last thing on his mind. All business, all the time. That’s part of what got the Washington Capitals to hire Oates as their head coach today on top of it all.

It feels a bit silly to feel as happy for what someone else accomplished, but that’s part of being a fan, right? Embracing those that helped bring the love of the game to you. Oates is the key figure on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of hockey. Oates, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, and Teemu Selanne. There are plenty other players I have a great appreciation for, but those four? They turned hockey from something I watched and enjoyed into something I obsess over and love dearly, maybe a bit too much if you ask some of my friends.

But Oates? He was the guy who sparked it all for me. Seeing a guy like that play live in person when you’re a kid leaves an impression on you. Seeing him win your favorite local team a championship hammers it home even more. Watching him excel as a professional for nearly 20 years is icing on the cake.

Adam Oates is a Hockey Hall of Famer. What a great day.

 

Preparing To Riot: Adam Oates’ annual Hall of Fame bid

It’s time for the annual boning over of the most unappreciated passer in the modern era of the NHL. Last year I was resigned knowing full well that Adam Oates wasn’t going to be voted into hockey’s hall of fame. I said it last year that if Adam Oates didn’t go into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, we were going to riot. It’d be more like Internet rioting and not the cop car burning rioting we see in beautiful Montreal, but it’s something, right? Instead, now it feels as if I’m going through the five stages of grieving.

First up: Denial.

No way. How can you leave the guy who is sixth all time in assists out of the Hall of Fame? He had more assists than Steve Yzerman and Gordie Howe. There’s clearly been a miscalculation of the voting here.

Then it’s anger.

Are you kidding me? The guy who sits 16th all time in NHL points scored can’t crack through the ballots on the Hall of Fame vote?! What the hot shit is this all about?! What kind of jerks vote on this!? I AM OUTRAGED!

Then it’s time to start bargaining.

All right, so if you’re not taking Adam Oates into the Hall of Fame, then let’s just  get him hooked up with a Canadian folk hero who is right behind him all time in points with a ravenous fan base looking for any kind of good news. After all, guys who spent a lot of time in Canada seem to get breaks with the voters.  All right Doug Gilmour, you work with us, we’ll work with you and we’ll both get through this together and down some brews in Toronto to celebrate.

So the bargaining thing might pan out, but I’m not holding my breath on that just yet because it’s making me fall into the fourth stage: Depression.

I don’t see what else you can say for the guy. I mean, he hasn’t worn as many ugly sweaters as my favorite emo band but my favorite emo band makes me want to drink a bleach coolatta. Sure that Mighty Ducks of Anaheim sweater was a Disney side show, but that’s no reason to keep a guy out of the Hall of Fame. I mean, he might be the only guy to get stuck having to wear hideous jerseys in his only two Stanley Cup final appearances in 1998 with the Capitals and 2003 with the Ducks.

Blue eagles and teal ducks?  Rock the red my ass, Washington. Adam Oates had to wear the stupid eagle and get swept out of the final by the Red Wings. I was asleep for most of that 2003 final, but when I came out of my coma I saw that Oates hadn’t gotten his name on the Stanley Cup again. At least he’s still got that 1985 National Championship to hang onto. You know, the one where RPI beat a Minnesota-Duluth team with Brett Hull in the semi-finals and a Lou Lamoriello coached Providence team in the finals. Ahh, memories.

Who knew that one would ramble so much when depressed, eh? Never mind that though, it’s all part of the grieving process and it brings us to the big one here and the one I’m pretty much set with as it is: Acceptance.

It’s pretty clear that being the one, lonely voice out here on the Internet clamoring for what should be a slam-dunk Hall of Fame career isn’t doing very much to help bring attention to a man who didn’t live to score goals, but rather lived to help create goals for his teammates, two of which he helped get into the hall of fame already in Brett Hull and Cam Neely. He’s a man who as a center for mostly pedestrian teams managed to do everything possible to make his teammates better and to help power plays become lethal with his playmaking ability.

These things matter not though, at least that’s what I’m telling myself in hoping that by setting the bar as low as possible the Hall of Fame voters will do the right thing and surprise the hell out of me on Tuesday by saying that they’ll be swinging the doors open for Adam Oates. My head and heart say that this will be his year and it makes the most sense as this year’s first-year eligible players have only one stand out person in Joe Nieuwendyk (a fine college player himself, albeit at Cornell).  Other interesting names including Pierre Turgeon, Peter Bondra, Eric Lindros and John LeClair also sit there, but they’re not getting within sniffing distance of the Hall because the wait list of guys that belong in the Hall is too long already.

Dino Ciccarelli (who I’ve lauded here before) as well as Dave Andreychuk (he of 640 goals), and the aforementioned Doug Gilmour are the main egregious omissions from Toronto’s hallowed hall. Two 600+ goal scorers and the man who is 17th all-time in points NOT in the hall of fame. That’s not even taking into account the cases for guys like Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny. Ridiculous.

Even more ridiculous is that if they do try to get things right, someone will still get left out because the Hall of Fame will only allow four players to be inducted at a time. I’m certainly not advocating swinging the doors open and letting everyone and their mother in, but just to put some of the differences aside (Dino and the media not seeing eye-to-eye, for instance) and instead of being petty dicks about the past, doing the right thing and opening the Hall up to those who have been more than patiently waiting for a long delayed call.

Or else there’s hell to be paid.