Alex Ovechkin (left) wasn’t exactly enthused by coach Adam Oates’ experiment. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
You have to hand it to Adam Oates. He’s clearly a man of his convictions.
It’ll be interesting to see how much longer Washington’s freshman coach will be allowed to hold onto them.
During his preseason preparation for his new gig, Oates came to a conclusion about the sagging fortunes of superstar Alex Ovechkin: the two-time MVP had become too predictable on the attack. If he had the puck, Ovechkin would carry it into the zone, curl in from the left wing and try to snap a shot off his forehand from the circle. If he didn’t have it, he would mill around until he could dart into the circle to await a pass that would set up a vicious one-timer.
Of course, Oates wasn’t the first to recognize this. Bruce Boudreau tried to address it and the ensuing power struggle cost him his job. So did Dale Hunter, whose weariness at dealing with Ovechkin was thought to be the prime reason for his return to junior hockey at the end of the playoffs.
So Oates took up the cause, bringing with him a reputation as an astute offensive mind. If anyone could get OV back on track, it would be the guy who spent his Hall of Fame career setting up Brett Hull and Cam Neely to succeed.
So what does Oates do? He takes the natural left winger and moves him to the right side.