Once again the Caps have hired a coach that has no head coaching experience on the NHL level. And for the second straight time they’ve hired a formal Capitals captain. So why is Adam Oates the right man for the job?
The most obvious issue over the past two seasons has been the lack of offense. Oates has had major success as an assistant guiding the power plays for New Jersey and Tampa Bay. Expect Ovechkin to finally move back to the wing on the PP, with Green and Carlson manning the blue line. All of this means more special teams goals, which means a happier Ovi and safer leads.
The key will be if he can let the team, which was built to be an offensive juggernaut, have the freedom to do what they do best while still being accountable on defense.
He seems to have the respect of the players. Jeff Halpern played with Oates in Washington and for him in Tampa. He says Oates has the “most elite hockey mind I’ve ever come across.” And his demeanor seems perfectly suited for the coach following Dale Hunter. He can keep the team working hard but not make the game a chore.
One other thing. Yes, Oates was a captain for the Caps and was on the team that went to the Cup finals, but the history angle is very different from bringing Hunter back. Although Dale played his first seven years with the Nordiques and his last in Colorado, he is a Capital through and through. Oates played for three teams before the Caps and three teams after. He spent as many seasons in Washington as anywhere else, but do you really think of him as a Capital? I think most would associate him with Detroit or St. Louis or Boston first. But if he finally brings the Caps the Cup we’ve wanted for decades he’ll change that. He might end up as the most important Capital of all time.
Now, a few other things …
Sports Radio Sucks
In case you thought for a second that D.C. was a hockey town, or more precisely that its sports radio stations cared about the Caps, let’s recap my drive home today. I was in the car from 5-6, prime afternoon drive-time radio. In that time the Oates hiring was mentioned during the updates but the topics the hosts talked about and took calls on included “Favorite Summer Olympic Athlete” and “Sports Relics That Hung Around Too Long,” but not the new coach who was also elected to the Hall of Fame today.
The Real Question
Our last coach was the center of fierce debate in D.C. Did Hunter look more like Bono or Robin Williams?
So what about Oates? Who is his celeb doppleganger? The obvious choice is Ray Liotta. I call him Ray Li-oates-a.
But a look back in his history reveals another option. The young Adam Oates had quite a bit in common with the late Robert Heyges (aka Juan Epstein).
King of the Oates
Becoming a first-time NHL head coach on the same day you get elected to the Hall of Fame leads to one inevitable question: Who is the most famous person with the last name Oates? I was a little concerned that Adam might be edged out by legendary pop duo back man (that’s the opposite of a front man, right?) John. So I went to the settler of all arguments, Google, and entered the word Oates. The results were shocking. Here’s the list
1. Joyce Carol Oates
2. John Oates
3. Hall & Oates
4. Oates Energy
5. Garfunkel & Oates (probably the best band name ever)
6. Adam Oates