College hockey players have been a part of the Hockey Hall of Fame since its first induction class in 1945: the first player alphabetically in that first class was Hobey Baker, a man who needs no introduction.
But with the notable exception of Cornell's Ken Dryden in 1983, the ranks of the Hall of Fame were largely closed to NCAA alumni, and for good reason - there just wasn't much talent that came from college.
The dam began to burst in 2000 with the induction of Boston College's Joe Mullen, but it wasn't until 2009, when Minnesota-Duluth's Brett Hull and Boston College's Brian Leetch were inducted in the same year that the true impact of college hockey's renaissance that started in the mid-1980s began to truly be noticed in the ranks of the legendary. Then in 2011, Cornell's Joe Nieuwendyk and North Dakota'a Ed Belfour added to the list.
This week, four more names were added to those of the greatest players to ever suit up. Of the four, one was a name that will never be forgotten in Troy: Adam Oates.
When he came to RPI, Adam Oates was not the odds-on favorite to be one day standing in Toronto and speaking about his career. Three years later, he was the cornerstone of a national championship winning team, propelling the Engineers to a second national championship, making the school one of the few which can claim multiple titles in multiple eras of the game.
On that long night in Detroit, it's unlikely anyone could have guessed that they were, in addition to watching the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner, were watching two men who would one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame, eventually linked not only by the epic battle that took place that night, but three years of mutually beneficial service together in St. Louis.
It may not have happened as soon as most RPI partisans would have preferred, but the day is finally here. Adam Oates is where he belongs - one of the greatest players in school history developed into one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history, and now, his name is written among the greats. Of the millions who have ever grabbed a stick and started playing, he is one of only 255 recognized as one of the best to play the game.
Congratulations, Mr. Oates.