June 26, 2012

Former Bruin Oates named Caps coach, elected to HHOF

By Jesse Connolly

Longtime Capitals forward Dale Hunter stepped behind the bench and righted the ship down in Washington this past season, coming in from the OHL to guide the team he once shined for to within a win of the Eastern Conference finals. 

Adam Oates served an assistant coach for the Eastern Conference champion Devils. (Getty Images)

Now, after his departure, Washington is again turning to one of its former star players to take the reins, and hopefully take the Caps to the next level. 

According to multiple reports, Adam Oates will be named as the new head coach of the Capitals on Tuesday. Oates, who will turn 50 in August, racked up 1,420 points in 1,337 games in the National Hockey League. He spent 387 of those games as a member of the Capitals (1997-2002), during which he had 363 points.

That wasn't the only big call Oates received Tuesday. The slick center learned he'll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November. This year's class also includes Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin and Pavel Bure.

Oates' time in Boston undoubtedly played a huge role in his selection.

Despite playing in just 368 games for the Black and Gold (1992-97), Oates ranks 13th on the club’s all-time points list with 499. In 1992-93, he ranked third in the NHL with 142 points, trailing only Mario Lemieux (160) and Pat LaFontaine (148). His 97 assists were the most in the league.

Oates, who retired in 2004 after one year in Edmonton, has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach.

He spent 2009-10 as an assistant to Lightning coach and fellow former Bruin Rick Tocchet before joining the Devils the following summer. He helped New Jersey reach the Stanley Cup finals this spring, where they lost in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.

Oates will become the 16th coach in Capitals history. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.