(2002 photo by NICK WASS/AP)

The Post offered a lengthy Rachel Nichols profile of Oates in April of 1998, about a year after he was first traded to Washington. That was the treasure trove. Among the nuggets contained therein:

* Nichols (well, Alexander at the time) wrote that Oates had “the hands of a gas station attendant.”

I was 19 years old, pumping gas and going nowhere,” Oates told her. “I was kind of a high school dropout at that point because I had left school to play hockey, but no one drafted me.”

* As a kid, Nichols wrote, Oates “partied a lot and always seemed to be wrecking cars. One time, his father had an old Mercury Cougar restored, and Oates took it out for a spin. It caught on fire. Oates also dabbled in hair dye.”

“ ‘When he was younger, his hair was actually browny blond, and he dyed it black,” said his mother, Loretta. “He also traded with this other boy for a black leather jacket full of safety pins. Eventually, he got rid of it. He was a good kid.”

“What didn’t I do? I was a punk,” Oates says now, laughing. “I think that’s why I'm such a good person now, because I was such a bad guy then.”

* Oates continued the good times at RPI.

It might have been just going to an American college that was such a blast for a Canadian kid,” he told Rachel. “You go to this building that seats 7,000 people, and they’re there to watch hockey, and then you go to some crazy frat party afterward, and that’s it, you’re hooked. You think you’re in the movie ‘Animal House.’ ”

* While in Washington, he apparently got engaged to actress Darlene Vogel, a regular on the syndicated series “Pacific Blue.” They met, Rachel reported, through a mutual friend who owned a clothing store with Oates.

But in the summer of 1998, the Boston Herald did a society item on Oates, which went like this:

Ex-Bruin-turned-Washington Capital Adam Oates has called a time out on his wedding to his TV honey, Darlene Vogel, who plays comely cop Chris Kelly on USA Network’s ‘Pacific Blue’ series.

We  hear the nuptials were supposed to be held last weekend in Las Vegas. But at the 11th hour, Oatsie decided the couple ‘wasn’t ready’ to walk down the aisle and iced their appointment at the chapel. Hope Elvis wasn’t crushed!

The hockey hunk has gambled on  marriage before —  and lost — so it looks like he’s taking the ‘I do thing’ more seriously this time around.

Comely cop! Hockey hunk! Man, I should have been a gossip columnist. Or maybe I am.

* Also in 1998, Oates met a Boston Globe writer for lunch downtown, and this happened:

He walked into Legal Seafoods a  little after 1 p.m., smack dab into the lunch crowd. The hostess  informed him that it would be a 20-minute wait, but Adam Oates  had a doctor’s appointment in less than an hour so he couldn’t stay. Oates politely said, ‘Thank you,’ and led his guests further down K Street in search of another option.  

The irony wasn’t  lost on him. If Oates, now one of the top scorers for the Capitals, had walked into Legal Seafoods in Boston, chances are better than excellent  the popular former Bruin would’ve been met with a greeting along the lines of “Your usual table, Mr. Oates.”

When told that, Oates laughed. “It’s getting better here, though,” he said.

Well, someone send him into Legal Seafoods to find out.


Halpern on Oates’s “elite hockey mind”

Capitals name Adam Oates new head coach

An old Oates commercial

When Oates was traded to D.C.

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