Big news for the Caps today as the team introduced former captain Adam Oates as the next head coach. Oates will replace the departed Dale Hunter, another former Caps captain. My quick synopsis: Get Ovi right, devise a system that allows for offensive creativity but still holds players accountable, gets the forwards back on defense, and encourages/demands players give up their bodies for the team. Do that, Coach Oates, and D.C. might get its hands on a Cup.
In one hell of a day for Oates, he was also named to the Hockey Hall of Fame. We’ll have more on the Caps’ newest coach soon, but for perspective on the hire we turn to some local and national experts after the jump.
Oates, who played parts of six seasons in Washington, spent the past two seasons in New Jersey as an assistant coach under both Jacques Lemaire and Peter DeBoer, visiting the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time as a coach this past June. As a player, he visited the Stanley Cup Finals twice, once with Washington and once with the Anaheim Ducks.
Oates is widely credited with helping Ilya Kovalchuk’s game reach another level and has been instrumental in New Jersey’s special teams’ success. While an assistant in Tampa during the 2009-10 season, the Lightning had a power play efficiency of 19.3%, which ranked 8th in the NHL.
The only catch? This will be the fifth straight coaching hire by McPhee who has not had any head coaching experience in the NHL.
The major concern here isn’t Oates’ systems or game-plans. It’s his inexperience.
He’s never been a head coach. Hunter, by comparison, had been a head coach for years in juniors before taking his first NHL gig. And now not only will Oates coach his first team, but a team with Alex Ovechkin.
The automatic assumption, and not entirely an inaccurate one: That Ovechkin wasn’t pleased playing a defensive style under Hunter, and now here comes a coach that might be able to get Ovie back to those halcyon days of 30 power-play points per season. Happy Ovie, better Capitals.
But as McPhee said: It’s not the style of hockey that matters, it’s the ability of the coach to sell that style. He clearly believes Adam Oates can get Ovechkin and the Capitals to buy in.
The Washington Capitals are going back to the well of moving former players behind the bench, as Adam Oates was named head coach Tuesday afternoon.
Oates, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the New Jersey Devils and the previous one with the Tampa Bay Lightning, is the fifth straight hire by general manager George McPhee without previous NHL head coaching experience.
But those who know Oates well aren’t worried.