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CAPITALS: After Being Hired As Head Coach, Adam Oates Earns Hall Honor
(Originally posted 6/26/12, 2:42 p.m.; updated 6/26/12, 3:30 p.m.)
The preservation of Adam Oates’ hockey legacy began hours after he began to ensure its future.
Oates agreed to become the new head coach of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday morning, then was among the four players the Hockey Hall of Fame announced will compose its Class of 2012.
The 49-year-old Oates played 19 seasons in the NHL with seven teams, including six seasons with the Capitals, and was a five-time all-star and a six-time Lady Byng Trophy finalist. He retired following the 2003-04 season and is ranked sixth all-time in assists.
Washington will be Oates’ first head coaching role. He spent after three seasons as an assistant, including the last two with the New Jersey Devils, the Eastern Conference champion.
“Adam was a highly intelligent player in the NHL for 19 seasons,” general manager George McPhee said in a statement released by the team. “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 Capitals had been without a coach since May 14 when Dale Hunter announced he would not return for a second season. Hunter assumed the role on Nov. 28 when Bruce Boudreau was fired, and he led the Capitals to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the New York Rangers in seven games.
Hunter was only on a contract through the remainder of the season, and he returned to his previous role as the head coach of the London Knights, a Canadian junior league team he and his brother, Mark, own earlier this month.
McPhee said before the NHL Draft he was looking for a coach who could play a faster style of hockey than Hunter’s defense-first, shot-blocking approach, but that Hunter’s ability to sell such a scheme to his players was a quality McPhee was hoping to retain.
“I think the whole league is trending toward an up-tempo style of play,” McPhee said. “But it’s not necessarily the style of play that’s important. It’s the ability of a coach to sell it to the players.”
According to the New York Post, the Devils only gave Oates permission to interview with one team for its head coaching vacancy. Former Chicago assistant coach Mike Haviland and Jon Cooper, the head coach of the minor league Norfolk Admirals, were also finalists for the job, per multiple reports.
Others to be inducted with Oates in Toronto on Nov. 12 include right wing Pavel Bure and centers Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin.
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