New Capitals Coach Adam Oates ended a six-week run as co-coach of the Hershey Bears, the team’s top minor-league affiliate, last week.
Oates had worked with Hershey Coach Mark French in leading the Bears for the first 16 games of the American Hockey League season, a move General Manager George McPhee made to give Oates and his staff – assistants Calle Johansson and Tim Hunter – experience working together as a unit while the NHL endures a lockout.
“I was thinking early on, if we can get to Thanksgiving, that would be enough for the coaches to have worked together,” McPhee said Tuesday. “Do we go beyond that? I’m not sure. It just felt right, when we got to Thanksgiving, that this is the time.”
The Bears went 6-9-1-0 with Oates working with French, who won the Calder Cup with the Bears in his first season of 2009-10.
“It’s hard on the coaches to be working together like that,” McPhee said. “It’s hard to run practices. It’s hard logistically. And it probably wasn’t easy on the players, either.
“But whether it’s a player or a coach, you do what’s best for the organization, and then the individual comes a close second.”
The Bears will play Dec. 6 at Verizon Center against Norfolk, the only hockey at the Capitals’ home rink since Washington lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.