Adam Oates is the new coach of the Washington Capitals, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.
The ex-NHL star had been an assistant with the New Jersey Devils and is credited with helping Ilya Kovalchuk’s game improve and for a dangerous power play. He played parts of six easons with the Caps.
“I’m excited for Adam. I think it’s great. I like the fact that the Caps, they try to take care of their own people,” ex-Caps winger Peter Bondra said in a phone interview. “Adam is familiar with the Washington Capitals, he played for Caps for a few years. I like that. i think that’s where Adam would be good transition, a faster transition, because he’s familiar with George [McPhee], everybody, Mr. [Ted] Leonsis. I’m really happy for him.
“Hockeywise, i think he’s going to be a good fit for the team.”
Oates is considered a players coach, and Bondra called him a “great teammate.”
“I think he’s going to do well. I really enjoyed working with him the last few years,” Devils forward Dainius Zubrus said. “He was working with forwards a lot. I know he helped me a lot with different stuff. A lot of times we’d go after games and go through some video and things like that. I thought his input was very good.”
Oates spent the past two seasons as Devils assistant and was on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s staff the year before that. He is the fifth straight coach hired by McPhee without previous NHL head coaching experience.
“Adam was a highly intelligent player in the NHL for 19 seasons,” McPhee said in a statement. “He has been an assistant coach in our conference for the past three seasons and is prepared to lead our club as head coach.”
The Caps will not formally address the hire until a 3 p.m. press conference Wednesday.
Captain Alex Ovechkin held a brief interview with the Canadian Press and RDS from the NHLPA meetings in Chicago on Tuesday and voiced excitement over the hire and the difference between Oates hockey and Dale Hunter hockey.
“It’s not blocking the shots and it’s not dump and chase,” he said. “I’m pretty excited and I’m very happy to hear the Caps sign that kind of guy who likes offense. You play offense but you don’t forget about defense.”