One of the top tasks for Adam Oates as the Capitals’ head coach will be to build a relationship with Alex Ovechkin, whose game has drawn increased scrutiny the past two seasons as his offensive production dropped.
The star left wing’s initial impression of his new coach seems to be a good one.
“I just talked with him briefly and he seems a great person,” Ovechkin told Chris Johnson of The Canadian Press and Renaud Lavoie of RDS in Chicago where he is taking part in the NHLPA board meetings this week.
“I’m looking forward to work with him,” Ovechkin continued. “You always excited when something big happen with your team…. I hope we gonna work well and gonna play and we gonna win, I think.”
In 2011-12, former coach Dale Hunter didn’t hesitate to bench Ovechkin, depending on the state of the game. If the Capitals were protecting a lead, Ovechkin could be found most often on the bench as Hunter relied on more defensively-sound forwards.
It’s believed that Oates, who is highly regarded as an offensive strategist, will strike a better balance between allowing Washington’s scoring threats to make the most of their skill without negating defensive responsibilities.
Asked if it was music to his ears that Oates is an offensive-minded coach, Ovechkin responded as you might expect.
“It’s not blocking the shots and it’s not dump and chase,” Ovechkin said. “Any system that I played, I learn a lot. I’m an offensive guy, it’s no secret to nobody. I’m pretty excited and very happy to hear the Caps signed that kind of guy that likes offense. But again, you play offense but you don’t forget about defense.
“I think coaches and players have to have good relationship, especially in the kind of situation where we have right now,” Ovechkin added. “It’s nice.”
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