The Washington Capitals announced today that Adam Oates will be their head coach for the 2012-13 season. Oates, 49, was a five-time All-Star player in the NHL, finishing his career sixth all-time in assists. Oates played parts of six seasons with the Caps from 1997-2002. He becomes the fifth head coach to be hired by Caps GM George McPhee during his 15-year tenure.
“We are very pleased to name Adam Oates as the new head coach of the Washington Capitals,” said McPhee. “Adam was a highly intelligent player in the NHL for 19 seasons. He has been an assistant coach in our conference for the past three seasons and is prepared to lead our club as head coach.”
As a player, Oates was a skilled playmaker, recording more assists than any player in the 1990s not named Wayne Gretzky and he is currently the player with the most points in NHL history that has not yet been elected to the Hall of Fame, though he is once again on the ballot this year and could find out as soon as today.
Oates also holds the somewhat dubious distinction of being the player who has accumulated the most career playoff points without winning the Stanley Cup. He played in two finals, with the Caps in 1999 and again after the ’02-’03 season with Anaheim. He also played with the St. Louis Blues, teaming with Brett Hull to lead one of the most potent lines in hockey history, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers.
He has been a very popular assistant coach, first with the Tampa Bay Lightning, then for the last two seasons with the New Jersey Devils, including their recent visit to the Stanley Cup finals.
Still, Oates has never had a had coaching gig at any level, let alone the NHL. He follows Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter as first-time NHL head coaches hired by McPhee.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.