Adam Oates honored to be back in Washington
Adam Oates never thought he’d be a member of the Washington Capitals again. But in just 12 hours Tuesday afternoon, he not only rejoined the Capitals’ organization, but was also voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
However, despite multiple recommendations, the new bench boss did not buy a lottery ticket. He said during his press conference Wednesday that instead he wanted to go play golf and see if he could land a hole-in-one, too.
Oates previously coached an offense that came up just short in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings. But let’s be perfectly honest. Did anyone really stand a chance against that dominating Kings team? Probably not.
After his time with the New Jersey Devils, it was clear that he wanted a change, and that he wanted it to be with Washington. How long did it take him to accept the job? “Uh, five seconds? When I picked up the phone,” he estimated.
As General Manager George McPhee, and even Team Owner Ted Leonsis, talked him up, one aspect of Oates that kept coming up was his hockey sense.
McPhee commented that he “never made mental mistakes,” and that he would be “the real difference maker.”
Leonsis said that Oates, when playing in Washington, “was always like a coach on the ice.” He also said that Oates explained to him, as a new owner, “what was going on.”
Oates was also referred to by the two as one of the smartest men they had ever known. If you think about just how many people Leonsis and McPhee know, that’s a pretty big honor.
One of the big ideas that Oates talked about was the concept of establishing territory and protecting it.
“I look at the Caps’ lineup and talent level, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t quicken the pace and be an aggressive team, but at the same time not sacrificing defense and protecting our goalie,” he said. “That requires commitment all over the ice.”
As for whether he thinks he can control Alex Ovechkin, Oates seemed to be of the mindset that Ovi just needed a good kick in the tush. Reading between the lines, it appears that Oates isn’t going to let Ovechkin just run wild and do his thing, something that previous coaches have done.
“Even a superstar needs to be coached sometimes,” he said.