It’s been about a month since Adam Oates’ rookie campaign as an NHL head coach ended with his Washington Capitals’ 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of their first-round series.
Not long after that, the Rangers were also eliminated and bench boss John Tortorella — who Oates apparently could “easily” take in a fight — was fired.
“Every coach has a shelf life,” Rangers GM Glen Sather explained.
Eventually a coach’s methods might get tiring or players will stop buying into his system. That’s something Oates wants to avoid.
“I’m constantly trying to think of ways to make sure the guys don’t get bored with me,” Oates told the Washington Post. “I want to coach for a long time. I want to coach these guys for a long time and it’s inevitable that it gets stagnant — I want to prevent that for as long as possible.”
For Oates, the question will be if he can turn this team into a genuine Stanley Cup contender. Alex Ovechkin will turn 28 in September and they still haven’t even made it past the second round with him.
Part of that was due to Ovechkin’s drop in production over the previous few years, but Oates oversaw Ovechkin’s rebound in the 2013 regular season. Whether or not Ovechkin is able to maintain that success — and then produce in the playoffs on top of that — will be a key factor in 2013-14.