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CAPITALS: Start Of Training Camp Leads To Important Lessons
ARLINGTON – The Washington Capitals officially returned to the ice Sunday morning for training camp with an understanding that much work needed to be done to prepare for the start of the season.
Head coach Adam Oates, hired in June to replace Dale Hunter, has six days to install an offensive playing style that’s less defensive than Hunter’s but not quite as uptempo as the one employed by previous head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“It’s offensively focused, which I think is great,” said left wing Wojtek Wolski, who signed with the Capitals in July after splitting last year between the New York Rangers and Florida. “There’s obviously a defensive component in the neutral zone to try to create turnovers, and I think that’s going to really help us try to play well and help us get a lot of opportunities. With the amount of offense that we have and the talent that we have up front, if we can play well in the neutral zone and get a lot of those turnovers, we’re going to get a lot of chances.”
The Capitals embraced a physical, shot-blocking style after Hunter took over the team 22 games into the season. Hunter, though, declined to return after Washington was eliminated by the Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Oates, a recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee who played parts of six seasons for the Capitals, was brought in for his first head coaching job.
Left wing Jason Chimera said the coaching staff tried to simplify the players’ responsibilities during the first day of training camp, which opened Sunday after both the NHL Players Association and the league owners ratified and approved a new collective bargaining agreement.
By spending additional time watching video and putting greater responsibility on learning responsibilities, Chimera said he and his teammates shouldn’t have to worry about being ready for the season opener on Jan. 19 at Tampa Bay.
Oates, for his part, was enthused by the start.
“I thought it was a long day,” he said. “It was a lot of information. I thought they handled it well, and we’re going to do as much as we can and try and get it over with early so they can focus later in the week on the game.”
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