Adam Oates said he didn’t think it was going to be possible to thank everyone who helped him reach the Hockey Hall of Fame in his induction speech. That didn’t keep him from mentioning as many of those important people as possible Monday night.
Oates named 34 different people in an emotional speech as he became officially enshrined as one of the greatest playmakers of all time.
For those who might not be able to watch the video below, here’s Oates’s speech:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you Bill [Day], Jim Gregory, Pat Quinn and all the members of the selection committee that have voted me this huge, huge honor.
As most people know, last June was a very special day for me. I got a call from George McPhee telling me I was going to be the head coach of the Washington Capitals and 15 minutes later I got a call telling me I was going to be in the Hall of Fame. As you can imagine, that was a pretty emotional day.
Since that day, I’ve spent a lot of time doing what almost everybody, I’m sure, who has been inducted has done. You reflect on your career. I spent a lot of time thinking about the people I played with, my memories of the game and the people that helped me get there. Today’s the day of all days I think I should say thank you.
Growing up in Toronto, I moved north when I was 16 and played hockey in Weston with a man named Mike Renzetti who coached me, drove me and was like a big brother to me. My junior coach Ken Gibb, who when I said I wanted to get a scholarship did everything in his power to try to and help me. My college coach Mike Addesa, who recruited me, appealed my case got my amateur status back and taught me so much about the game. And Paul Vincent, a skating coach, who took me into his home for two years no questions asked to help me work on my game. To them I want to say thank you, I want to let you know that I haven’t forgotten that you helped me.
I can’t think of any better honor than being grouped with some of the people that you think are special in the game, that you try to raise your game to play against every single night. Whether it’s a Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux or going into Colorado trying to beat the Avalanche and trying to play as good as Joe Sakic. Or going to Toronto, my hometown, trying to beat the Leafs and trying to play as good as Mats Sundin. Or in Vancouver: How are we going to win? How are we going to shut down the Russian Rocket? Gentlemen, I’d like to say congratulations it’s a huge honor, which I sincerely think you deserve.
In life you have relationships that don’t always last but you make a connection. Hockey is no different. Whether it’s coaches like Brian Sutter, Tom McVie, Tim Army, Mike Babcock or players Mike O’Connell, Doug Halward, Rick Zombo, Gino Cavallini, Kelly Chase, Sergio Momesso, Rick Tocchet, Don Sweeney, Olie Kozlig, Calle Johansson, Petr Sykora, Paul Kariya. To them and many others, I want to say thank you. I think we connected and you meant so much to me and my career.
I also had the privilege of playing with some special players. I was in Detroit when a young Steve Yzerman was named captain and watched him turn into the superstar he became. I got traded to St. Louis and played with Scott Stevens, who was a fantastic player and went on to become the rock of the New Jersey Devils. And I got to play with Brett Hull.
Hully I know you know how I feel about you. 72, 86, 50 in 50 was an incredible time. You put me on the map. It was so, so special. My feelings for you, I’ve expressed so many times, you’re absolutely fantastic. I can’t believe it was only three years because it felt like forever.
I got traded to Boston and I got to play with Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. Cam, 50 goals in 42 games has to be one of the best seasons of all time. I’m one of the few people who know what you had to do every night just to be able to play. It was an absolute privilege, I had the best seat. I wish it could have been longer.
And Ray, six of the best years of my life my man. My friend, my teammate. I got to watch you work every day, work with you. You challenged me, you made me better. You made me better as a player. You were so good. Thank you and thank you to those guys for memories I’m going to carry my whole life.
Lastly I’d like to thank my friends and family. My wife, Donna. I love you very much. We met near the end of my career, I wish we could have met a little sooner you could have seen me when I was a little bit better player but I’m happy you’re here today to experience this and see what we’re all about here in hockey. And thank you for supporting me in the next challenge of my life, coaching.
My sisters Laurel and Michelle and all my friends, you all had to watch so many games and support me and deal with my moods the next day. The best way I can say thank you to you and honor you is to remind you that I hope you know that every single one of those games a part of me was playing for you.
Mom and Dad, I don’t know how you took me to all those games. You supported me, encouraged me, helped me through tough times and gave me the chance to live my dream. I know it’s not the easiest thing for our family but I love you very much, thank you. I’d never be here without you. Thank you.
And here’s the video: