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As a Division I college player, Oates was a standout forward for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He set single-season school records for assists and points and was named an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) all-star and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-American in both 1984 and 1985. He was named a tournament all-star in helping RPI win the NCAA 1985 National Championship

Adam then went on to play 19 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Edmonton Oilers. Known as an elite playmaker, his career total of 1,079 assists was the fifth highest total in NHL history at the time of his 2004 retirement.

After retiring as a player, he served as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils prior to joining the Capitals as their Head Coach for two seasons between 2012 and 2014.


Oates was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 12, 2012.


On January 27, 2017, in a ceremony during the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, Oates was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.


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