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Bylsma surmised that Oates being a “student of the game” should help him avoid a similar fate. Hunter has a different theory.

“A lot of guys get into coaching to do something,” he said. “He didn’t get into coaching just to do something. He wanted to become a great coach. And [during] the three years he spent as an assistant coach, he studied the game immensely.”

Hunter acknowledged that Oates‘ coaching career is a “work in progress,” but he believes the 50-year-old is doing it the right way.

Why Oates thinks he won’t go the way of Gretzky and others has to do with having to work for success rather than fall back on pure skill.

“The game didn’t really come natural to me,” Oates said. “I was a more analytical person. I can’t speak for them, but [for] some guys the game came so easy, they were fantastic. And maybe they can’t necessarily explain why they did what they did. But the game did not come easy to me.”

Hunter said he, Oates and assistant Calle Johansson are trying to treat their players the way they wanted to be treated in the same spots. Not having a career served up on a platter could help Oates now.

“I got benched. I got traded. I had success. I had failure where a lot of superstars don’t,” he said. “They’re good as soon as they come into the game, so they don’t know what it’s like to play on the fourth line. They don’t know what it’s like to sit for half a game and not play, to be sat out, to be healthy scratched, in and out. To not be drafted. Twice.”

In addition to being in so many situations, Oates sees five to 10 errors on every shift when most guys see one or two, Hunter said. And as an offensive playmaker, Oates saw the game quicker, too.

But Bylsma doesn’t view Oates as someone who can’t communicate what he sees.

“As a guy who journeyed the length of the hockey world to get to the next level, you kind of have to read teams and coaches and situations,” Bylsma said. “If you don’t, you probably don’t survive. That’s what I think I’ve brought.”

And what Bylsma thinks Oates brings as he builds his own coaching career.