NEWARK, N.J. | Adam Oates on Friday returned to New Jersey, where he spent the past two seasons as a Devils assistant, still looking for his first victory as the coach of the Washington Capitals.
It’s a special return, but Oates wasn’t getting too nostalgic.
“As you can imagine, it was a great year, a great run,” Oates said. “We got very close and when you go through that as a staff you get closer and you get closer, you know, with the players. I got to be here for two years and it’s a great feeling. It’ll be great to see the guys, but obviously I’d like to get the win.”
During his brief time with the Caps, Oates has been quick to praise Devils coach Peter DeBoer, with whom he worked closely. Oates said he felt like he knew a lot about being a head man in the NHL from DeBoer.
“Pete is a very smart man, he’s a very good coach, he had great success here,” Oates said. “His ability to communicate with his staff every single day, his ability to, the next morning after a tough loss, to bounce back and be positive, there were a lot of things that, I think, subtly you pick up off a guy and you know [why] he was great to work with.”
But Oates has had to learn the hard way so far with the Caps, who are 0-3-0 to start the season, the only team in the league without a point. He believes players know his system already, but something’s not clicking.
“There’s really only one change from what they did last year, we might call it something different, but it’s pretty similar and I think the guys know it,” he said. “It’s more conditioning and effort and 60 minutes and the full game.”
Oates has had to draw on his playing career and his three years an assistant with the Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning plenty already. Still, it has not been a perfect transition to getting to know the Caps.
“It’s been very difficult. It’s been difficult for the guys,” Oates said. “Every team has to go through it. I talked to the guys today about, no matter what, when you go on the ice, you can’t go half speed. You have to go for your full shift and if you don’t have that much energy, make it a short shift.
“We have to play at a certain tempo, and I think once we start playing at that tempo we’ll be able to tell, get a better read of our team.”