When it came to picking assistant coaches, Capitals Coach Adam Oates’s first priority was finding the right person to work with the defensemen.
“I felt it was more important to get the defensive guy that I wanted,” Oates explained in a phone interview. “Because I was a forward as a player, I think it’s going to be easier for me to have a rapport with the forwards.”
“We wanted to make sure that whoever we brought in on the defensive side, that our personalities gel really well,” Oates said. “I want the same kind of complementary relationship, for sure, when we fill the second position – it’s going to be a forward guy — but it will be a lot easier to speak the same language and coach those guys in a sense.”
For a number of reasons — not the least of which being their already-established relationship — Oates’s friend and former teammate Calle Johansson was at the top of the list. They have the same philosophy when it comes to a style of play, believe that all players can benefit from coaching no matter what their age or experience level and they trust each other making it easy to voice concerns.
Both are entering uncharted territory, though. Oates, 49, will be a first-time NHL head coach and Johansson, 45, will be a first time NHL assistant coach.
While Oates isn’t concerned about making the transition, he acknowledged that experience is one of the elements they’re considering when looking at candidates for the second assistant coaching position.
“I think [experience] matters, certainly,” Oates said. “But you have to meet the other criteria as well. If it works out where the right person has a lot more NHL experience, great.”
Oates added that he expects the coaching staff will be completed “shortly.” It’s believed an announcement on the second assistant coach could come next week.
No matter who else joins the staff, Oates says he wants to have a collaborative environment between all members of the coaching staff. While coaches will have certain areas of specialization, Oates says they will have input across those boundaries like the way things operated during his time in New Jersey the past two years.
“Pete DeBoer was my boss and he was a great coach but we touched on everything, all of us,” Oates said. “He was the decision maker and the boss, but he allowed us to work under him correctly, I think, in a way that allowed us all to give input.
“For example, Dave Prior and Olie [Kolzig] are goalie coaches,” Oates said. “They have over 40 years of experience, they’re the experts on it, but we’ve all got our own opinions on how a puck should or shouldn’t go into the net. We all have our own views and should be able to contribute to the discussion. That’s personally the way I like it to be.”
More on the Capitals