Nine years after Adam Oates hung up his skates, the Hockey Hall of Fame has finally inducted the former Washington Capitals captain. In Toronto on Monday, in front of his mom, dad, wife Donna, George McPhee, and many others, Oates gave a stirring, eloquent, and totally unscripted speech, thanking the people who helped him in his career.
Hall of Famer Brett Hull, part of a video package about Oates aired before the introduction, called his former teammate “Gretzky-like” in his vision and passing skill. “Adam belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame because he’s one of the greatest players to play the game,” Hull said.
Oates made it through his most of his speech, which included personal thanks to Olie Kolzig and Calle Johansson, without getting emotional. But then he brought up his wife Donna and recalled his parents dedication and support throughout his childhood, and he couldn’t hold back the tears.
Oates has been compared to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux a bunch these last few days, and while that’s a controversial claim, there is one thing that is not debatable: Adam Oates was one of the best playmakers of all-time. He made everyone on the ice a better player. With him, the Capitals would not have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 98 and so many of the other players we loved growing up would have been deprived. Shame on the HHOF for inducting this man six years later than they should have.
Oates’ speech and a full transcript of his remarks are below the jump.