Every hockey player's dream is to have his name engraved into Lord Stanley's Cup.
Hockey players dream of it as a kid, playing hockey on the pond and pretending to score the Cup-winning goal. They continue on throughout their hockey careers, winning Pee-Wee and Squirt championships before playing hockey in high school and eventually making it to the greatest stage in hockey: the NHL. Yet, none of the championships in minor leagues or children's league that they had won before matter at all.
The only trophy in hockey that matters is the Stanley Cup.
The Cup seems to have its way of creating miraculous stories. Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk, for example, are some players who had to wait until their forties to finally accomplish their dreams.
Yet, the Cup seems to elude some players throughout their careers no matter how well they perform on the ice; players such as Pat LaFontaine, Jeremy Roenick and Marcel Dionne.
...and Adam Oates.
Oates played in 22 NHL seasons from 1985/1986 through 2003/2004. He is currently sixth in all-time assists with 1,079 and has more playoff points than any other NHL player or former NHL player who is not currently a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also became the oldest player to lead the league in assists in the 2001/2002 season, as he tallied 64 assists at the age of 39.
Who is the greatest player to have never won the Stanley Cup?
However, Oates also holds another record that is as impressive as it is unfortunate.
Oates has the most playoff points of any player who has not won the Stanley Cup.
He made it to two Stanley Cup Finals in his career—1998 as a member of the Washington Capitals, who lost to the Detroit Red Wings, and 2003 as a member of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who lost to the New Jersey Devils.
After playing the 2003/2004 season with the Edmonton Oilers, Oates decided to hang up his skates at the age of 41 with his name still missing from the Cup.
For the 2009/2010 season, Oates began a new career as the new assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The next season, he joined the coaching staff of the New Jersey Devils, where he still remains today.
With New Jersey's improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final, Oates now has another chance to get his name engraved in the greatest trophy in sports. Any hockey fan would love to see Oates finally get this honor, as arguably no player in history has earned it more than he has.
Remember, the Los Angeles Kings franchise has been around since 1967 and still has no names engraved in the Stanley Cup, so there will be a feel-good story from this year's Stanley Cup Final either way.
But, as far as individuals are concerned, no hockey fan could be upset if Adam Oates finally has the opportunity to do what he has dreamed of doing ever since he was a child: raise the Stanley Cup.