Roughly 15-and-a-half years after a multi-player trade sent him to Washington, whom he will begin coaching as soon as the NHL lockout ends, Oates remains ninth on the Bruins’ all-time career assists leaderboard.
His 357 helpers in 368 games played constituted a little more than 71 percent of his total output with the team, a testament to his eminent penchant for playmaking. He easily led Boston in that category in each of four full seasons and finished second to Jozef Stumpel by only three in 1996-97, the year he was dealt with 19 games left on the schedule.
Oates’ 52 assists that season were compiled in the absence of the then-freshly retired Cam Neely, a 2005 Hall of Fame inductee who was the go-to finisher in the tag team they formulated in the mid-90s. If Oates’ ability to move forward without a celestial linemate was not verified beforehand, it certainly was in his Boston swan song.
In acknowledgment of his trip to Toronto and the uniform digits he sported at the old Garden and later the artist originally known as the FleetCenter, here is a timeline of Oates’ 12 best single games and hot streaks as a Bruin.
April 25, 1992
Oates’ power-play goal from the Broadway lane drew a 2-2 knot, which he helped to morph into a 4-2 advantage by setting up two more unanswered strikes. His output helped the Bruins defeat the resolute Buffalo Sabres, 5-4 and raise the upper hand to 3-1 in the Adams Division semifinals.
Feb. 6, 1993
In his third career All-Star Game appearance and first in his days as a Bruin, Oates set up each of the first three goals and added a record fourth assist in a single period to help charge up a 6-0 advantage at intermission.
Although he was quiet for the remaining 40 minutes, his role in the tone-setting outburst set the Wales Conference on pace to a 16-6 throttling of their Campbell counterparts at the Montreal Forum.
March 4-April 18, 1993
A hat trick and an assist gave Oates a hand in every Bruins goal en route to a 4-3 squeaker past the visiting Vancouver Canucks on March 4. It also began a 22-game production streak, during which he accumulated a 9-33-42 log and tallied four playmaker hat tricks, including one in the streak’s final installment in Game 1 of the Adams Division semifinals.
Oct. 9, 1993
A five-point performance comprised of a hat trick and two helpers piloted a 7-3 win over the Quebec Nordiques at the Garden. Oates would charge up another three goals at Quebec’s expense later that season on Feb. 8 and tallied a final 8-4-12 log in the five-game season series.
Dec. 2, 1993
Feb. 8-March 7, 1994
Oates’ second aforementioned hat trick, which fueled a 6-1 victory at the Quebec Coliseum, also sparked a 13-game point-getting streak. In that time frame, Oates had six multipoint evenings, including four three-point nights, and the Bruins went on a 10-1-2 rampage in the standings.
The streak concluded with the team going on a six-game winning tear, during which Oates averaged exactly two points per contest.
Oct. 7-9, 1995
Dec. 14, 1995
Jan. 22-25, 1996
April 25, 1996
In his final playoff game victory with the Bruins, Oates helped the team stave off elimination for one night against Florida with two assists and two goals, including a shorthanded strike. His four points spelled the precise mathematical difference in the 6-2 final.
Jan. 7-Feb. 20, 1997
In what ultimately proved the twilight of his Boston career, Oates made a tangible contribution in 20 consecutive games for the lowly Bruins, who would finish last out of all 26 NHL teams by season’s end.
The streak began with a goal and a helper in a road loss to Philadelphia and ended concomitantly with a string of 14 consecutive games with at least one assist.
Feb. 27, 1997
Boston halted a 10-game winless streak with the help of Oates’ playmaker hat trick and plus-four rating in a 6-2 thrashing of the Lightning. It was Oates’ penultimate game as a Bruin, his last occurring two days later, when he tallied two assists in a 5-5 tie with the Flyers mere hours before the blockbuster deal was completed.