Former Bruins center Oates set for Hall of Fame induction


Former Bruins center Oates set for Hall of Fame induction

Through hard work and dedication, Adam Oates overcame not being drafted to become one of the game's elite setup men. Originally signed by Detroit his playmaking prowess took center stage following a trade to the St. Louis Blues. Oates led the NHL in assists three times, including a career high of 1.48 assists per game in '90-91, earning second-team All-Star honors and 142 points in '92-93 as a member of the Boston Bruins. Just the eighth player in NHL history to record 1,000 career assists, Oates finished sixth all-time with 1,079 and 13th in all-time scoring with 1,420 points during his 19 seasons.
Thats the inscription on the Hockey Hall of Fame plaque for center Adam Oates, who will go into the Hall in Toronto on Monday night in a ceremony along with Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic and Pavel Bure. It really says it all about Oates, who was never the biggest, the strongest, the fastest or the toughest guy on the ice during his NHL career. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was instead one of the smartest and most instinctual passers that the game has ever seen, and racked up 1,079 career assists while feeding pucks to Brett Hull, Cam Neely, Petr Bondra and others over the course of his 18-year career.

His pass first instinct was something taught early in his life while growing up in Toronto, and it was a skill he continued to develop as he went undrafted in both Major Junior hockey and the NHL.

If you can be unselfish, your teammates will always like you, said Oates to reporters up in Toronto on Monday afternoon while describing the pass-happy mantra his father David instilled into him from a young age.

It just kind of became my role where obviously trying to please my dad. I think its just the way that youre 7 years old and your dads like, Pass the puck. Youre a centerman.

Oates first made his name after getting traded to the St. Louis Blues when he formed the Hull & Oates combo with the Golden Brett, but he had his best NHL seasons while donning the Black and Gold sweater of the Boston Bruins. Two of his four career 100 point seasons came in Boston, and Oates reached career-highs in goals (45), assists (97) and points (142) in a magical 1992-93 campaign in Boston.

The only Bs player to ever dish out more than 97 assists in a regular season is a chap named Bobby Orr, and the only player to ever score more than 142 points in a Bs sweater was Phil Esposito. So the cerebral playmaking pivot absolutely left his mark during his six seasons with the Bruins.

Amazingly that was also the season Neely was limited to 13 games played during to hip, knee and leg problems, and it was Joe Juneau and Dmitri Kvartalnov that each popped in 30-plus goals for the Bruins. The following season, however, Oates helped Neely reach 50 goals scored in an amazing 49 games.

Its only ever been done a handful of times, and I played with two of them, Oates told the Washington Post. When Brett did it in St. Louis . . . 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. I had the best seats for both of them.

As Oates alluded to, earlier in his career Hull also scored 50 goals in 50 games and its no coincidence both Hull and Neely achieved the rare goal-scoring feat with Oates dishing from the center position.

Adam is quite possibly the best backhanded passer that the game has ever seen, said Neely. He had such great vision and a high hockey IQ, but he was also underrated for his defensive play.

Oates still ranks eighth all-time in Bruins franchise history with his 357 assists accumulated while playing for Boston, and finished with 142 goals and 499 points in 368 games before he was dealt to the Washington Capitals. When he steps up to the podium to accept his nomination to the Hall of Fame hell have played for the Red Wings, Blues, Capitals, Flyers, Ducks and Oilers in his NHL career.

But those around Boston will know that Oates spent his best years powering the Bruins attack in the early-to-mid 1990s, and his trademark backhanded passes were authored with one of the most uniquely short stick blades in NHL history.

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship


Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told on Wednesday.
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”

Pomeranz 'pretty comfortable' with potential move to bullpen


Pomeranz 'pretty comfortable' with potential move to bullpen

NEW YORK -- If Drew Pomeranz is going to be part of the Red Sox' postseason plans, the team will likely have a better idea about that question by Thursday afternoon.

Pomeranz, who was scratched from his final scheduled start on Thursday because of soreness in his left forearm and general concern about his 2016 workload, will throw a 30-35 pitch bullpen.

If he responds well, he could then see some relief action over the final weekend at Fenway to determine his readiness for the playoffs.

"Before we even begin to map out a potential relief appearance over the weekend,'' said John Farrell, "we've got to get through that next step.''

Pomeranz pitched well in his last start at Tropicana Field over the weekend, but has been dealing with some discomfort in his forearm.

"I've had some soreness here, late in the year,'' Pomeranz said. "I've thrown more innings than I have ever (before), so we kind of sat down and talked about the best course of action the rest of the way.''

Pomeranz described what he felt as "just some soreness, probably from never covering this time of the year. It's a spot I've never been in before. We just decided the best thing to do was not making this last start and talk about maybe sliding into the bullpen.''

The lefty is no stranger to the bullpen, having pitched there as recently as last season while with Oakland.

"I've had the benefit of doing pretty much everything (in terms of roles),'' he said. "I'm pretty comfortable in any situation. If they see me helping there, obviously, that's where I want to be. But I don't know if it's a sure thing. We'll have to see how it goes.''

Meanwhile, another sidelined starter, Steven Wright, is expected to rejoin the team in Boston Friday. Wright threw a bullpen off the mound earlier this week in Fort Myers as he attempts to come back from inflammation in his shoulder.