The Wait Is Over, Washington Capitals Name Adam Oates New Head Coach
Courtesy of Bruce Bennett / Getty Images
Slow and steady wins the race. Perhaps that’s the philosophy of general manager George McPhee and the Washington Capitals.
After taking more than a month to land their man, the team has named Adam Oates the 16th head coach in Washington Capitals history. (Sigh of relief)
Best known for his successful playing career, Oates played 19 seasons in the NHL, including six seasons in Washington between 1996 and 2002. Making his last stop as a player with the Edmonton Oilers in 2004, Oates took time away from hockey until 2009 when he was hired as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. While in Tampa, Oates worked primarily with forwards and offensive playmaking.
In 2010, Oates was hired by the New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach. Although Devils head coach John MacLean was fired midway through Oates’ first season, Oates was retained under interim coach Jacques Lemaire. Oates then served as an assistant under new coach Peter DeBoar last season, in which the Devils won the Eastern Conference and earned themselves a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.
As Katie Carrera mentions in her article, Oates becomes the fifth head coach hired by McPhee in his 15 seasons at the helm of the Capitals. And just like the four coaches before him, Oates is a first-time head coach in the National Hockey League.
Fans can rest now that their team has found their man. And with Oates being a former player, fans will likely embrace the hire even more. Aside from his experience behind the bench, albeit brief, Oates’ experience on the ice and in the locker room create a sense of security for the team moving forward.
During his playing days, Oates made a name for himself as an offensive threat with crafty playmaking abilities. Naturally, slight concern amongst fans is expected in fearing that Oates will re-route the Caps to an offense-first philosophy. But according to former teammates, Oates is far from a one-way player/coach.
“Everyone thinks of Adam Oates as an offensive guy but he’s not just that,” former Capitals winger Peter Bondra said in a phone interview. “I think he was a two-way player, he always was a two-way player, and you can see that in him as a coach. I remember he would always talk a lot to us about details, how to work on the forecheck, how to get back. I think his experience, what he gained as a player and now as a coach, I think it’s going to complement the Capitals well.” (via the Washington Post)
As a fan of the Capitals, this move is drenched in approval. Not only do I support the idea of employing a coach that has experience as a player, but I also grew up with the Capitals during the glory days of Adam Oates in Washington.
Although his coaching resume is far from extensive, it’s no way indicative of his success as a head coach. In my opinion, Oates’ experience as a player will go a very long way with this team; most notably Alex Ovechkin.
And finally — to place the bright red cherry atop this delicious hiring sundae — Adam Oates draws a strong resemblance to actor Ray Liotta. And I enjoy Ray Liotta.