Early in the 2011-2012 season, I put together an article on the large number of coaching changes that had occurred in the NHL during the offseason and first few weeks of the regular season. Now, the trend has begun again, as the Washington Capitals have added their third head coach since last November.
Washington hired New Jersey Devils assistant coach Adam Oates earlier today, who replaces Dale Hunter. The move was forced upon the Capitals after Hunter decided to step down from the position after this past season. Oates played with Washington from 1996-2002, which makes him another former player to take over the job in the nation’s capital. As a coach, Oates spent a year in Tampa Bay before joining the Devils in 2010-2011.
During his 19-year career as a professional hockey player, Oates tallied 341 goals and added 1,079 assists, while playing with a number of different franchises. His best season came in 1992-1993, when he recorded 142 points in Boston.
Oates takes over a Capitals team that snuck into the postseason in 2012, despite being very inconsistent on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. Washington ranked 21st in the league in both goals allowed and penalty kill percentage and was just slightly better at scoring the puck at 14th.
Fortunately for Oates, he has the convenience of taking over a team that has all-star Alex Ovechkin — even though this past season wasn’t the best of his career by any stretch of the imagination. And, the Capitals just added former Stars’ center Mike Ribeiro (18 goals, 45 assists last year), which should provide some instant offensive assistance.