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Scheifele, Morrissey explain what Oates will bring to LA Kings

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WINNIPEG — Mark Scheifele texts back and forth with Adam Oates nearly every day.

The two review clips Oates has cut for the Winnipeg Jets forward, and Oates offers some ideas of small adjustments Scheifele can make in practice to help better translate to game nights.

As one of several clients of Oates Sports Group, a boutique hockey agency that offers a wide range of amenities for players — from skill development right up to player representation — it’s Scheifele’s tight-knit relationship with Oates as they work on the finer points of his game that’s turned the 25-year-old into one of the NHL’s elite centers.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things, that he gives you active, constructive things to work on a daily basis than just going out and skating,” Scheifele said. “Skate with a purpose, work on the things that are going to benefit your game, in-game.”

Scheifele linked up with Oates three years ago in an effort to further his on-ice product. What drew him — and likely a list of 20 or so other NHLers to the Hockey Hall of Famer — was Oates’ history in the league, an illustrious career and one of the best to ever do it.

“That’s first and foremost,” Scheifele said. “He’s one of the best passers of all time. He’s felt it. He knows what it is like to be in certain situations. He can still actually, physically do it, one thing I think he still does really well. And he’s really smart, a hard-working hockey mind that understands the game so well. He can watch it and read it at a different pace than everyone else.”

[RELATED: Oates joins Kings as skills and development consulatant

Oates was a prolific forward who terrorized defenseman. The slick-skating, pinpoint passer amassed 1,079 assists and 1,420 points in 1,337 games during his 19-year tenure. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

Oates’ ability to slice his way through defenders drew Josh Morrissey in, too.

Winnipeg’s top shutdown rearguard has made a name for himself when it comes keeping the NHL’s best off the scoresheet on a nightly basis — something that rarely happened to Oates.

“He’s one of the best forwards of all time, he knows how to beat you,” Morrissey said. “He knows what forwards are trying to do to you and knows how to try and avoid that kind of thing.”

Being the burgeoning defenseman that he is, Morrissey wanted in on the tutelage. The 23-year-old claims Oates’ advice is largely rudimentary.

“Defensively, just a few little skating things, avoiding injury by having your head up more, controlling the puck more by changing your stick a little bit,” Morrissey said. “Things to make your game more efficient.”

Supplementary to one’s overall game?

“Exactly,” he said. “It’s like a strength coach or a nutritionist that you have back home during the summer.”

Morrissey said there was a controversy a few years ago surrounding whether teams liked their players working with Oates or not.

“The thing I can attest to, personally, from having worked with him, is that it has nothing to do with anything systematically, it’s just little skills and things like that,” Morrissey said.

Oates isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel, per se. He’s just trying to perfect it.

So why are two of Winnipeg’s stars talking about Oates?

Mostly because I asked them to after the Los Angeles Kings hired Oates as a consultant for skills development and to help the team’s ailing power play earlier this week, just two days after they fired head coach John Stevens and assistant Don Nachbaur, replacing them with Willie Desjardins and Marco Sturm.

But also to get some insight as to why a team as a whole might want his services.

Both are happy to see an important asset to their careers find work with the Kings.

“I personally think it was a great play by L.A.,” Scheifele said of bringing Oates aboard. “Smart play there by them. He’s got a lot of knowledge.”

Judging by some of the names under Oates’ wing — Steven Stamkos, Jack Eichel and Max Pacioretty, to name a few — it seems like a bona fide no-brainer.

Morrissey said it’s a running joke among those who train with Oates that they wish they could just keep him to themselves.

“Because he’s so smart,” Morrissey said. “But I’m happy for him getting that role.”

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Adam Oates joins Kings as skills and development consultant

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The Los Angeles Kings are taking a multi-faceted approach to turn their season around.

Just two days after firing head coach John Stevens and assistant coach Don Nachbaur, replacing them with Willie Desjardins and Marco Sturm, the Kings are now bringing on Hockey Hall of Famer and former head coach Adam Oates, the CEO of Oates Sports Group, as a consultant to try and right the ship.

According to the Kings, the 20-year NHL veteran will provide “advice regarding player skills evaluation and development” while also helping the team with their ailing power play.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Oates will still be able to continue working with the players he helps train, including Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.

[Related: Kings fire John Stevens]

Oates Sports Group runs a hockey boutique hockey agency specializing in a wide gamut of player services, including training and skill development, player representations and marketing and public relations.

Los Angeles’ problems on the ice run deep after a 4-8-1 start to the season. A summer move that saw Ilya Kovalchuk return to the NHL hasn’t paid off and the Kings are now in the midst of a long-term absence of starting goaltender Jonathan Quick.

Oates isn’t going to come in and turn things around overnight, but with what he’s been able to do with some of the superstars he trains around the league, there’s no harm in the Kings trying to leverage that for their own roster.

The Kings are back in action on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks, Desjardins’ first game as Los Angeles’ new bench boss.

MORE: Kings’ problems run much deeper than their coach


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Wolski shows off nice hands in shootout goal

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Wojtek Wolsk, who now plays for Torpedo Nizhny Novgoro in the KHL, showed off his soft hands during the shooutout in a recent game against HC Dynamo Moscow.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

NHL Winter Classic: Setting up rinks a shared passion for father and son (The Washington Post)

Kings’ defenseman Alec Martinez admits contract talks are in the back of his mind (L.A. Kings Insider)

Did the Devils contact Adam Oates without permission? NHL and Capitals consider case closed (The Bergen Record)

Sharks’ Nieto set for return after missing 9 games (CSN Bay Area)

Travis Green and Mike Stothers named coaches for AHL All-Star Classic (The AHL)

Curtis Lazar and Connor McDavid: Junior hockey’s odd couple (Toronto Star)

What can the NHL do to get more fans? (The Hockey News)

Canadian gold-medal Olympic men’s hockey team named CP Team of the Year (The Canadian Press)

Fanspeak: Brett Hull voted greatest Blue in franchise history

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This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

St. Louis Blues

1. Brett Hull — 1,099 votes

2. Al MacInnis — 267 votes

3. Wayne Gretzky — 175 votes

4. T.J. Oshie — 93 votes

It’s probably not a shock that The Golden Brett came away with the victory here.

Hull is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals with 527, third in games played and second in points behind fellow Hall of Famer Bernie Federko.

Curiously enough, Federko didn’t even make Top 4 on the vote even though he was the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring. He also netted the Blues the centerman that helped lead Hull to three consecutive 70-plus goal seasons, including 86 in 1990-91, in Adam Oates as he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for the young upstart pivot. The combination of Hull and Oates helped give the Blues some of the most prolific offense the franchise has ever seen in the early 90s.

Now that he’s back with the team as an executive vice president, Hull’s place with the franchise is solidified.

MacInnis checking in second in our vote shows the mark he left in St. Louis. Originally a Calgary Flame, he brought his wicked slap shot and leadership to a Blues team that had a young Chris Pronger that needed some guidance. Incredibly, he played 10 seasons with the Blues after spending 13 with Calgary and won the Norris Trophy in 1999.

We’re assuming you guys were joking around with all the votes for Gretzky. His 31 total games with the Blues (regular season and playoffs) in 1995-96 couldn’t have been that impressive.

Laich: Missing playoffs ‘might’ve been greatest day going forward’ for Caps

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Last season, the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. That disappointment led to coach Adam Oates and longtime GM George McPhee being fired and turned the offseason into a bit of a tumultuous one.

If you ask Caps forward Brooks Laich about last season, he’s looking on the bright side of life as Dan Rosen of NHL.com shared.

“My honest opinion is not making the playoffs last year might have been the greatest day going forward for our organization, because I really think it made us all take a look in the mirror and at our failures and why we are failing,” Laich told NHL.com. “If we would have made the playoffs and lost in the first or second round it would have been the same old story, but you wouldn’t have had that hard, brutally honest look at yourselves to realize why you are failing.”

To say the Caps have been treading water in the postseason the past few years may sound cruel, but when you don’t get past the second round six straight seasons, maybe that’s the right way to put it.

Going through a season that saw virtually everyone’s production drop is a painful way to make change happen, but now the Caps will look forward to Barry Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan trying to get the team to their first Eastern Conference Final since 1998.