New Washington Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates re-familiarized himself with the D.C. listening audience Thursday with an appearance on the Sports Junkies.
The Junkies, who are broadcasting live from the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, kicked off the interview with J.P. asking Coach Oates if he’s ever played the course. (Coach Oates…has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?)
Oates said he has played Congressional and “I’m the same as everyone else. It was a very humbling experience.”
A homecoming for Oates, during his playing career Washington was as long a stop as he’s had in any city, having played here from 1996 to 2002. Oates said he was very excited about the opportunity to return to the nation’s capital.
“When you watch teams play and as a former player when you watch the cities you were in, you always have a little extra special feeling watching those teams. And Washington was the longest I’ve played in this league. You know, I played a lot of games here, had a lot of memories, went to the Finals together here…I love this city and to get a chance to coach this team which is a very good hockey team, I’m very excited.”
Oates, returning on a 3-year coaching deal, spoke about how easy it will be returning to Washington.
“Well, that’s actually one of the differences that makes it exciting for us. The practice facility is over in Arlington now, and when I played it was over in Piney Orchard and I lived in Bethesda. I’ve never been over on this side of town, so it’s just another exciting piece of the puzzle for us.”
With the startling exit of Bruce Boudreau mid-season, and the equally surprising hire of former longtime Caps great Dale Hunter as his replacement, last season held a lot of change in style and utilization of different players. Clearly one of the most glaring questions fans and media members alike are asking, is what kind of personnel changes does Coach Oates plan on making?
“I got to watch a lot of the Caps play because, being a coach in New Jersey we did a lot of pre-scouting and there was a chance we were going to play them instead of the Rangers. The biggest difference you saw is basically in the last month of the season and in the playoffs, they started to play a way more complete, hard, physical game. It seemed that all the guys were committed to it. That’s the team that i remember right now is that last month in the playoffs and hopefully we’re going to build on that. We’re just going to try that a little bit, and make it go through the whole season.”
Without really having touched on the style of play he plans on implementing, that was the very next question he was asked.
“I guess my style would an ‘in your face’ style. I want to play uptempo hockey all over the ice. If you watched the Finals, New Jersey played LA in the Finals and both teams basically played in your face hockey in all three zones. There’s no free ice, and that’s the kind of game we’re going to play. I think we have the players here to do that.”
Coach Oates went on to say that in this league, because of the talent level, the athletes are so good, and the coaching and the goaltending is so good that you have to be able to do anything.
When asked about transitioning from being player to coach, Oates said it was a very difficult transformation. He spoke about how difficult it is to be a player in today’s modern game, especially in the age of the internet, and how you’re never really off the hook. But the 49-year-old Oates dismissed the idea that despite the age gap between him and his players is so small, maybe he can go out and have a few beers with the guys after training.
“No, you can’t do that. You’re still management and you have to be professional. You have to separate yourself in that capacity. Once you’re in the facility you’re on the team but once you leave, you go your own way. That’s being professional.”