As an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils, Adam Oates helped goal-scoring winger Ilya Kovalchuk became a better all-around player.
Now he turns his attention to Alex Ovechkin. Oates, the latest Capitals head coach, will have his hands full getting Ovie back on a his superstar track.
“Ilya is a great guy and he made those adjustments willingly and it was a huge part for him in the game,” Oates told reporters at a news conference in Washington D.C.. “Really, he had to be showed some things. He’s the same guy he was when I first met him, he’s a fabulous guy he just needed to learn a little bit about the game. Even the superstars need to be coached once in awhile.”
Which brings us to Ovechkin, who has earned a reputation for coach-killing.
“I think he’s a special player,” Oates told reporters. “In terms of adding a little bit to his game I think I can,” Oates said. “But he’s got to earn my trust as a coach first, along with the rest of the guys, and it will be a process that we’re starting soon and looking forward to.”
Ovechkin hopes to have more offensive freedom than he enjoyed under previous coach Dale Hunter.
“It’s not blocking the shots and it’s not dump and chase,” Ovechkin told The Canadian Press. “Any system that I played, I learn a lot. I’m an offensive guy, it’s no secret to nobody. I’m pretty excited and very happy to hear the Caps signed that kind of guy that likes offense. But again, you play offense but you don’t forget about defense.
“I think coaches and players have to have good relationship, especially in the kind of situation where we have right now. It’s nice.”
This ought to be fun.