Oates said the success of the move illustrated something deeper — something that runs through the team. “It was good for him, no question, but he had to have the faith that he was going to be OK and it was going to help the team because that’s how I sold it to him,” Oates told reporters.
OK, so now you have Oates with his rookie coaching year behind him, coming off a full training camp and a happy MVP winner whose new position makes him and the team better. So the reasonable explanations of last year’s failures now turn into reasonable expectations for this year’s success.
You’ve got the Hall of Fame player-turned-coach having handed as tough a rookie year of NHL coaching as you’ll see and come out of it with his superstar player pledging his allegiance to him. You’ve got the franchise goaltending icon, Olie Kolzig, now in charge as goaltending coach, and a young, mentally tough goalkeeper in the Kolzig mold in Branden Holtby.
These are ingredients for playoff success beyond anything the Washington Capitals ever did in the Southeast Division — like maybe reaching the Eastern Conference finals.
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com