Forgot to write about this last night, but thought it interesting that the trivia question during the game was about who the top five assist-getters in league history were (context: Oates is sixth). One (Gretzky), I knew, of course. Two (Ron Francis) and three (Mark Messier) I thought of, but decided they were a little lower down the list. Four? I always forget how good Bourque was at the offensive end. And five? Yeah, didn't think of him (Paul Coffey) at all (I think because I only remember the very end of his career. Stupid west coast and Penguins).
But what I found most interesting about the group of them was this:
That list is the first season played for each of the five (in order, if it matters).
Quite a testament to how high scoring was in the NHL in the 80s. And to add to it, #15 (Al MacInnis), #16 (Larry Murphy), #20 (Dale Hawerchuk), #23 (Denis Savard), and #30 (Jari Kurri) also started in those three years. #7 (Steve Yzerman), #10 (Super Mario), and #13 (Doug Gilmour) were only a couple of years after. Oates himself was only two years after the last of that latter group (imagine if he had skipped going to RPI).
Now just imagine if OV could have played in his prime in that time period. That would have been scary; he might well have set the single-season goal record.