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A look at the Hall-of-Fame career of Adam Oates 06.26.12 at 6:32 pm ET
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Former Bruins’ great Adam Oates was named the head coach of the Capitals and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday in what will certainly be a day he will never forget.

Oates, who is sixth all-time in assists, spent 19 years in the NHL with seven different teams, including the Red Wings, Blues, Bruins, Capitals, Flyers, Mighty Ducks and Oilers. While Oates is a 5-time all-star and recognized as one of the greatest playmakers in the modern NHL era, he never won a Stanley Cup in any of those 19 seasons.

However, Oates had many other highlights throughout his illustrious hockey career. Here is a list of Oates’ top-five highlights as a hockey player.

5) 1985 was a great year for Oates, who led his RPI hockey team to an NCAA championship and signed the richest rookie contract to that date (four years, $1 million) with the Red Wings. Oates broke school records that season with most assists in a season (60), and most points in a season (91) while scoring 31 goals in only 38 games. Oates was an NCAA first team All-American that season in which he cemented himself as one of the greatest college hockey players of all time.

4) In 2001-02, the 39-year-old Oates became the oldest player to lead the NHL in assists in a single season, when he finished the regular season with 64 of them in 80 games between the Capitals and the Flyers. Oates led the league in assists by a wide margin, as the second-best assist-man in the league was Jason Allison with 55. While Oates was traded to a Stanley Cup contender in the Flyers (the second seed in the Eastern Conference), his team was eliminated in the first round by the Senators in five games, destroying a chance at the cup for the aging star.

3) Oates had his best chance at a Stanley Cup in his second-to-last season in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, when his team reached Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals only to fall to the Devils 3-0. Oates was tied with Petr Skyora for his team’s lead in scoring during the playoffs with four goals and nine assists in 21 games, but despite his effort, along with that of Conn Smythe trophy winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the Mighty Ducks could not get Oates his long-awaited Stanley Cup.

2) Oates teamed up with Brett Hull in the 1990-91 season to become one of the most dominant two-player tandems in NHL history. The “Hull and Oates” combination combined for 246 points that season, and Hull won the Hart trophy during a year he scored 86 goals (an all-time record for right wingers). Oates scored 25 goals and tallied 90 assists in only 61 games that season, to finish third in points that season behind only Wayne Gretzky (163) and Hull (131). However, had he been healthy all season, he and Hull could have only added to already astounding production that year.

1) Oates’ best season in the NHL came with the Bruins in 1992-93, when he scored a career high 142 points (45 goals, 97 assists). With Cam Neely still suffering from his devastating knee injury, Oates, along with Joe Juneau and Ray Bourque, carried the Bruins to a first seed in the Eastern Conference. However, the Bruins would eventually get swept by the Sabres in the first round of the playoffs despite Oates’ team-leading nine assists in four games.

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Zdeno Chara proves why he’s the ‘toughest guy in the [NHL], bar none’ 03.28.12 at 9:55 am ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is notoriously humble and soft spoken about his own accomplishments.

That’s why it’s often a good idea to listen to his teammates and coach when trying to gauge what impact he’s had on the Bruins, even a teammate like Brian Rolston who hasn’t shared a dressing room with him for that long.

Asked what he’s learned about Chara since coming back to Boston in a deadline trade with the Islanders, Rolston was honest enough.

“Probably nothing,” Rolston said. “He’s so hard to play against; he’s a tremendous leader. Obviously he does that by example, but he’s the toughest guy to play against in the league – bar none. If you were to pull the forwards on every team they would say the same thing and coming in on a nightly basis knowing that you have to face him – it’s a tough task.”

Rolston set up the game-winner of Tuesday’s 5-2 triumph over Tampa Bay when he tried a wraparound midway through the third, only to have the puck flutter its way out to a wide open Benoit Pouliot. But the heroics of Rolston and Pouliot don’t happen without Chara, who has he did all night, brought the puck in deep into the offensive zone to apply more pressure on a team known for its stingy defense.

The secondary assist was Chara’s third of the night, a night on which Chara matched a career-high with three helpers and was honored before the game for becoming the latest and greatest member of the NHL’s 1000-game club.

“Yeah, those were big,” Rolston added. “Z had a great game, another great game for us. It’s huge, it’s huge – if you can get the defensemen helping out, and especially against on team like that that collapses down all the time. It’s difficult to get anything going down low so it’s great to have defensemen contributing offensively.”

That’s exactly what Chara did when he took the puck midway through the first at the Tampa Bay blue line and charged around the zone like Wayne Gretzky, eventually running at the net, creating a scoring chance for Shawn Thornton when Dwayne Roloson left a juicy rebound.

“Basically, I get a puck on the blueline, I was trying to ride the blueline and then just kind of opened up and I really decided to challenge that seam and once I got a little bit more room, I was kind of deciding between a shot and pass,” Chara explained. “But again, everything was happened and I decided to take it to the net and we’ve always been taught when you do those things, good things happen and they did. We scored on the rebound, and it ended up being a good play.” Read the rest of this entry »

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