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From national champion at RPI to rookie with the Detroit Red Wings, Oates earned a four-year, $1.1 million contract and didn’t waste much time before becoming a point-a-game player in the NHL.

But it was a 1989 trade to the Blues that started Oates‘ ascent. Addesa already considered his protege a brilliant hockey mind who always wanted to talk about the sport, but it wasn’t until Oates played with Hull that he started seeing things more analytically.

“I talked way more hockey with Brett. And then it started evolving where you start thinking to a different level,” Oates said. “We had a connection, and he’s lighting the league on fire.”

In three seasons on Oates‘ wing, Hull scored 72, 86 and 70 goals. In 1990-91 and ‘91-92, he scored 50 goals in 50 games, thanks in large part to Oates, who idolized Brett’s father, the legendary Bobby Hull.

“It’s just we kind of had the same philosophy on the game, we had the same ideas on the game. To me, I was brought up obviously listening to my father and he instilled in me the game was give-and-go,” Hull said. “You’ve got to move the puck and go and get it back. There was no better guy to do that with than Adam because of his skill set.”

Hull, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, scored more than 30 percent of his 741 career goals with Oates as his teammate. “He helped me get into the Hall of Fame,” Hull said.

Oates said that “Hully put me on the map.” But that was just the beginning.

Following his trade to the Boston Bruins, Oates led the league with 97 assists in 1992-93, and the following season helped Cam Neely score 50 goals in 50 games.

Oates singled out helping Hull and Neely hit those milestones as two of the most memorable parts of his career.

“It’s only ever been done a handful of times, and I played with two of them,” he said. “When Brett did it in St. Louis, it was just, I mean he was taking the league by storm. And then when Cam did it, he basically did it on one leg. And watching him prepare every day to try and just play the game, let alone do what he was doing, was an incredible feat. And I had the best seats for both of them.”

Hull praised Oates for having as good a hockey brain as Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. In the modern era Oates‘ vision stands out.

“His ability to see the game, not just offensively, but the whole game, from end to end, that’s what made it easy for him,” Hull said. “I wasn’t necessarily a shooter. He was a playmaker, and that’s what he loved to do as much or more beating a defense or beating a defenseman and kind of making them look silly, giving me say a layup or a great wide-open one-timer or whatever it is. He relished in doing that to the defense.”

Oates joked Sunday that “I did score a couple goals.” That’s 341 for those counting. But it was more often than not his job to be the point guard on the ice.

“He could score if he wanted to. The parameters of his game, he was always put on a line with the shooter, whether it was me, whether it was Cam Neely, whether it was [ the Capitals‘] Peter Bondra,” Hull said. “You don’t really have much choice if you got a guy who could also move the puck.”

Evolving on the fly

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