In what was a surprise move this morning, the Washington Capitals announced head coach Adam Oates will coach alongside Mark French for their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears until the lockout is lifted. This could definitely be a sign that the lockout could last a full year. Oates was announced as the Capitals newest head coach this off-season following the vacancy that was left when Dale Hunter left the team following the postseason for personal reasons.
Capitals General Manager, George McPhee made the announcement this morning. “Mark French and Adam Oates will be co-coaches and they will work together and both will be very involved with the day-to-day [operations] of the team.”
“We think it’s a great opportunity for all of our coaches in the organization to work together to learn the nuances of our system of play,” says McPhee. “We also think it’s a great opportunity for our NHL coaches to get to work with our young players and frankly to give them something to do. There’s no sense in them sitting in Washington when they could be active in Hershey.”
One noticeable difference between Dale Hunter and former Capitals head coach, Bruce Boudreau was their coaching style. Boudreau developed the same system he installed in Washington, that he first installed when he coached the Hershey Bears before his promotion. Following the firing of Boudreau, Hunter instilled a defensive system at the NHL level. When players were called up to Washington last year, they had trouble adjusting quickly to Hunter’s philosophy.
With these coaches all working together in Hershey and possibly Washington’s ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals, players will be able to get more attention and could hone their skills quicker than if there were just two coaches.
“That will evolve as we see how it goes,” says McPhee. “The nice thing is we have lots of manpower to really be able to work with our players and to work with our players individually because we have that much manpower now. We’ll see how that goes. We’ll start out with everyone planning on getting involved and then we’ll see how it works.”