For the first time in three years, the Washington Capitals have some sense of stability as they head into the offseason.
There won’t be any questions about who the coach will be, like there were last offseason after Dale Hunter’s departure. No speculation about what type of system they’ll use or how long a leash the bench boss might have, either, like there was 2011 with Bruce Boudreau.
It’s a luxury that the players say makes their offseason preparation that much easier.
“I think it’s important to all of us that the stability is there,” said Mike Green, who has played for four different coaches in his eight-year NHL career. “I think each year we kind of didn’t know what to expect, and with Adam it’s so consistent. I know exactly what I need to do to prepare myself for next season and that’s key. I think that everybody does and if we can all be on the same page from that aspect then we’ll be back.”
Simply the knowledge that Coach Adam Oates will be back for his second season and they can build off the work they put in during this lockout-shortened, 48-game season is encouraging to players.
They know their roles within his system and can tailor their offseason training programs to better improve individual skills that he’s asked them to focus on.
For someone like Jay Beagle, who is known for his tireless summer workouts, that means emphasizing the nuances of his game and getting used to a new stick curve – a midseason change Oates recommended — in addition to the traditional conditioning aspects.
“I think I’ll work on a lot of individual skill stuff, which I haven’t really done in the past. I have with skating and stuff,” Beagle said. “I already talked to [Oates] a little bit about this during the season – doing some different bag skating with the puck and instead of just skating lines, getting ready for training camp, doing a lot of stuff where I’m handling the puck a lot more and the puck’s on my stick and I’m working on just individual skills through pylons, stuff like that.”
It’s not only the players who benefit from having Oates and the rest of the coaching staff established but General Manager George McPhee as well. When it comes to offseason signings or trades, he should be able to better identify players who suit Oates’s system and can fill the Capitals’ specific needs.
“It makes it a lot easier,” McPhee said. “I know what Adam likes now and we like the same sorts of things, so that’s nice. It makes that process a lot easier. I know the way that he wants to coach, so we’ll try to do things that fall within his system, certainly.”