Oates is named Caps new coach

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Loose Pucks,Sports,NHL,Capitals,Brian McNally

Former star center also elected to Hall of Fame

Former Capitals star center Adam Oates had one of the all-time great days on Tuesday.

In the early afternoon, the 49-year-old was named Washington's new coach, completing an extensive six-week search by general manager George McPhee and his staff. Later, Oates, a five-time NHL All-Star who played 19 seasons for seven different teams, learned that he had been voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Oates file
» He played three years of college hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (R.P.I.), where he had 66 goals in three seasons and led the school to the NCAA title in 1985. He later earned a management degree from the school.
» Oates becomes the fifth consecutive coach hired by general manager George McPhee without any prior NHL coaching experience.
» He played six seasons for the Caps and was a team captain for two. Oates was acquired in a March 1, 1997, trade with Boston along with Bill Ranford and Rick Tocchet for Anson Carter, Jim Carey and Jason Allison.

Oates, who played six seasons for the Caps from 1996 to 2002, becomes the 16th head coach in franchise history. Most recently an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils, who reached the Stanley Cup finals earlier this month, he takes over for Dale Hunter, who decided after the season not to return to Washington. Oates was chosen over finalists including Mike Haviland, a former Stanley Cup-winning assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks, and Jon Cooper, who led AHL Norfolk to the Calder Cup Trophy this spring.

"It's a special day for me and my family," Oates said in a conference call after the announcement of his Hall of Fame election. He will be inducted on Nov. 12 along with former NHL stars Pavel Bure, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin.

"Maybe more so than any other teammate I had in Washington, I definitely saw [Oates] as a head coach," said Caps associate goaltender coach Olie Kolzig, a former teammate of Oates and his road roommate for those three seasons. "He was such a smart hockey guy, very meticulous in the subtleties of the game ... [and] just had a great mind for the game."

Oates has no prior head coaching experience in the NHL. He was an assistant in New Jersey for two seasons and for one before that in Tampa Bay. One of the great passers in NHL history, Oates worked extensively with the Devils' power play, which jumped from 28th in 2010-11 to 14th (17.2 percent) this past season.

Oates finished his playing career with 341 goals and 1,079 assists. His career assists-per-game (.807) is seventh in NHL history. But Oates was far from a one-dimensional player. He was exceptional in the faceoff circle and also a fine penalty killer.

"Everybody thinks that Adam Oates was only an offensive player because he had so many points," former teammate Peter Bondra said. "But I see him as a two-way player. He was really smart in his own end playing at center. I think he's going to bring to the Caps something [in the] middle from last couple coaches -- Bruce [Boudreau] and his offensive hockey and Dale [Hunter] and that defensive style."

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner