The Man of Steel (Oates)
Another hot and muggy summer here in the District, another team crowned Stanley Cup Champions, and another offseason full of trades and free agent shake ups across the league. Come October (fingers crossed!!) Adam Oates will set out to lead our Caps through another grueling season, aiming for the ultimate prize next spring. Before I began to write about the new Caps head coach, I first wanted to get an idea of the kind of player he had been. Unfortunately, I’m a fairly new acquisition to the world of hockey fandom, so I turned to some more seasoned fans from around the league to paint a picture:
“Where do I start? Growing up he was my favorite player behind Messier and Lemieux. I probably have almost 100 of his trading cards. He was respected throughout the league as one of the best pure passers, probably second only next to Gretzky. He played the game cleanly, always a leader, consistent, put up great numbers, and obviously not selfish, consistently leading the league in assists.”
Steve, Pittsburgh Penguins Fan
“I remember watching him on the Bruins and thinking he was a classy guy…he is considered one of the all-time decent guys in the NHL…’
Ed, Buffalo Sabres Fan
“He was solid…He had a Nick Backstrom type of game - solid, effective, but not too flashy.”
Bhumip, Washington Capitals Fan
“I remember he won a lot of face offs…he was a calming influence”
Dan, Boston Bruins Fan
“I actually think assists are cooler than goals, thanks to him.”
Jack, Washington Capitals Fan
I’d say the man is pretty highly regarded. The Caps need a strong leader who knows the game and knows how to get the job done, with the talent we have. Oates seems to fit the bill and I don’t know about you all, but I’m amped up. Everything you ever wanted to know about Adam Oates, here are the facts:
- Born in Weston, Ontario on August 27, 1962. This means we should probably start planning his 50th birthday party now. HockeyShopped golden cuff-links?
- Played for 7 different NHL teams over 19 seasons, starting in Detroit and ending in Edmonton. Was a Cap for 5 seasons, from 1997 – 2002, and was a part of the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals team.
- He succeeded Dale Hunter as team captain starting in the 1999-2000 season, just as he would succeed him as head coach, 13 seasons later.
- Considered one of the game’s all-time elite playmakers, he is the only player in NHL history to center 3 different 50 goal scorers: Brett Hull, Cam Neely, and Peter Bondra. Translation: he helped make great players even greater. Hopefully that knack translates to coaching.
- Retired with 1,420 points, 1,079 assists, and 6 Lady Byng finalist nominations. He will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with the 2012 class, news that arrived on the same day he was announced as Caps head coach. Now that’s a good day.
- Assistant coach for Tampa Bay in the 2009 – 2010 season and in New Jersey from 2010 – 2012, helping lead the team to their first Stanley Cup Finals since their last Stanley Cup victory in 2003.
- Perhaps most importantly, he is a co-founder of Old Time Hockey, along with some of his old college buddies from RPI. Beauty and business sense, ladies.
His entire hockey career, whether as a player or coach, Oates has been an achiever, this much is clear. But there is still one thing left for him, still some unfinished business. Lord Stanley’s Cup has eluded him, just as it has eluded the Caps franchise for 38 years. With this shared challenge, have the stars aligned? Could this be the perfect combination of star-powered skill, gritty depth, and calculated leadership the Caps need to win it all? All I know is, we’re going to have a heck of a time finding out.