Capitals coach Adam Oates was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night in Toronto and delivered this 5-minute, 5-second speech flawlessley and without the aid of index cards. Below is a transcript of his speech.
"Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you Bill [Day], Jim Gregory, Pat Quinn and all the member of the selection committee who have voted me this huge, huge honor.
As most people know last June marked a very special day for me. I got a call from George McPhee telling me I was going to be the head coach of the Washington Capitals and 15 minutes later I got a call telling me I was going to be in the Hall of Fame. As you can imagine it was a pretty emotional day. Since that day I’ve spent a lot of time doing what almost everybody I’m sure who’s been inducted has done. You reflect on your career. I spent a lot of time thinking about the people I played with, my memories of the game and the people that helped me get there. And today is the day of all days that I should say thank you.
Growing up in Toronto I moved north when I was 16 and I played hockey in Weston with a man named Mike Renzetti, who coached me, drove me and was like a big brother to me. My junior coach, Ken Gibb, who when I said I wanted to get a scholarship did everything in his power to try and help me. My college coach, Mike Addesa, who recruited me, appealed my case to get my amateur status back, and taught me so much about the game And Paul Vincent, a skating coach who took me into his home for two years, no questions asked, to help me work on my game. To them I want to say thank you. I want to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you helped me.
I can’t think of any better honor than being grouped with some of the people you think are special in the game, that you try to raise your game to play against every single night, whether it’s a Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux. Or going into Colorado trying to beat the Avalanche and trying to play as good as Joe Sakic. Or going into Toronto, my hometown, and trying to beat the Leafs and try to play as good as Mats Sundin. Or in Vancouver. How are we going to win? How are we going to shut down the Russian Rocket? Gentleman, I’d like to say congratulations to a huge honor which I sincerely think you deserve.
In life you have relationships that don’t always last but you make a connection. Hockey is no different. Whether it’s coaches like Brian Sutter, Tom McVie, Tim Army, Mike Babcock. Or players, Mike O’Connell, Doug Halward, Rick Zombo, Gino Cavallini, Kelly Chase, Sergio Momesso, Rick Tocchet, Don Sweeney, Olie Kolzig, Calle Johansson, Petr Sykora, Paul Kariya. To them and many others I want to say thank you. I think we connected and you meant so much to me and my career
I also had the privilege of playing with some special players. I was in Detroit when a young Steve Yzerman was named captain and watched him turn into the superstar he became. I got traded to St. Louis and played with Scott Stevens, who was a fantastic player and went on to become the rock of the New Jersey Devils. And I got to play with Brett Hull. Hully, I know you know how I feel about you. 72, 86, 50 in 50 was an incredible time. You put me on the map. It was so, so special. My feelings for you I’ve expressed so many times, are absolutely fantastic. I can’t believe it was only thre years cause it felt like forever.
I got traded to Boston and I got to play with Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. Cam, 50 goal sin 42 games had to be one of the best seasons of all time. I’m one of the few people that know what you had to do every night just to be able to play. It was an absolute privilege. I had the best seat. I wish it could have been longer. And Ray, six of the best years of my life, my man, my friend, my teammate. I got to watch you work every day. I worked with you. You challenged me. You made me better. You made me better as a player. You were so good. Thank you to those guys for all the memories I’m going to carry with me my whole life.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my friends and family. My wife, Donna, [long emotional pause] who I love very much. We met near the end of my career. I wish we could have met a little sooner. You could have seen me when I was a little bit better player. But I’m happy that you’re here today to experience this and see what we’re all about here in hockey. And thank you for supporting me in the next challenge of my life, coaching. My sisters Laurel and Michelle and all my friends. You all had to watch so many games and support me and deal with my moods the next day. The best way I can say thank you to you and honor you is to remind you that I hope you know that every single one of those games a part of me was playing for you.
Mom and Dad, I donlt know how you took me to all those games. You supported me, encouraged me, helped me through the tough times and you gave me the chance to live my dream. I know it’s not the easiest thing for our family but I love you very much. Thank you. I’d never be here without you. Thank you."