Update, 2:55 p.m.: Adam Oates elected to Hockey Hall of Fame
Updated 1:20 p.m.: After a month and a half long search, the Washington Capitals have named Adam Oates coach.
Oates, who spent six seasons in Washington as a player and captained the team in 1999-2000, will become the 16th coach in franchise history and the fifth hired by General Manager George McPhee during his 15-year tenure. All of McPhee’s hires have been first-time NHL head coaches and now his last two, including Dale Hunter, have been former Capitals.
Oates, 49, was an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils each of the past two seasons. During his time with the Devils, Oates was responsible for the power play and also played an important role in helping Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk develop a two-way game.
That experience, in addition to Oates’s first-hand knowledge of what it takes to be a top-level player in the NHL, will likely help him work with the Capitals’ stable of talented forwards, most notably Alex Ovechkin.
“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.”
Oates has no prior head coaching experience at any level on his resume, but his stock as a potential candidate rose this past spring as the Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup final. He has spent a total of three years as an assistant coach in the NHL, serving in Tampa Bay in 2009-10 and each of the past two seasons in New Jersey.
As a player, Oates appeared in 1,337 games over a 19-year NHL career, recording 341 goals and 1079 assists. In six seasons with the Capitals from 1996-97 to 2001-02, he recorded 363 points — 290 of them assists — in 387 games.
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