Bates turned pro in 1997 after three seasons with the powerhouse Lake Superior State teams of the early nineties coached by Jeff Jackson.
A 6th round pick of Anaheim in 1994, Bates played 580 NHL games with Carolina, Colorado, Washington, and Toronto, as well as parts of three seasons in the top leagues in Finland, Germany, and Sweden. He also represented the United States on three occasions, earning a bronze medal with the 2004 World Championship team.
Bates retired from pro hockey in 2012. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.