Time as player didn't end wellfor the new coach
By the end of his six-year tenure as a player with the Capitals, Adam Oates had demanded a trade and been stripped of his role as team captain.
|The Capitals cut ties with yet another pending unrestricted free agent Wednesday when they traded defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Calgary Flames for a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 and AHL defenseman Jordan Henry. With five defensemen already under contract next season -- Karl Alzner, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine, Dmitry Orlov and Roman Hamrlik -- and Mike Green and John Carlson restricted free agents who are expected to return, there was no room left for Wideman, who led Washington's blueliners with 46 points last season.|
That 2002 trade to Philadelphia was an inglorious end to the longest time he spent with one NHL club during his 19-year NHL career. Oates figured that relationship was severed for good. It wasn't.
Instead, Wednesday was "a day that I never thought would happen where I'm a member of the Washington Capitals again," Oates said at his introductory news conference at Verizon Center as the organization's new coach.
Oates was hired Tuesday after a six-week process to find a successor for Dale Hunter, who quit two days after the season ended. He quickly promised an uptempo style of play similar to that on display in the Stanley Cup finals between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils, where Oates was an assistant coach the past two seasons.
Following his retirement as a player after the 2003-04 season, Oates spent five years away from the sport. He moved his family to California and even tried his hand at making the Senior PGA Tour. But that attempt eventually didn't work out, and he missed hockey. It was time to coach, beginning with one year as an assistant in Tampa Bay in 2009-10.
Now Oates is beginning to plan for his first training camp -- lockout permitting as collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NHL's owners and players begin soon -- with this spring's Stanley Cup finals games fresh in his mind as he devises a style of play for his new team.
"[The Kings and Devils] were basically in-your-face teams all over the ice and in all three zones," Oates said. "I really feel the game today is territory. You have to establish territory and protect it. I look at the Caps' lineup and the talent level, and I don't see any reason why we can't push the pace, be an aggressive team but at the same time not sacrificing defense and protecting our goalie. That requires commitment all over the ice."