Oates: You've gotta show up for work
From behind the bench of the New Jersey Devils last season, Adam Oates saw his players embrace Pete DeBoer’s system with so much conviction they went 36-16-5 down the stretch and carried that momentum all the sixth game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Those same Devils were 12-12-1 on Dec. 3.
The moral of that story is that there is hope for the Capitals to buy into Oates’ system, which mimics the one DeBoer employs. The question is whether they can afford to wait as long to turn things around.
“These teams are the ones that might in the middle of the season explode and be dangerous, but it might take a while,” Devils goaltender Marty Brodeur said of the Caps, who visit the Devils tonight at 7 p.m.
“Who knows? Sometimes you just don’t see the effect. Everybody’s different, but it’s not the ideal situation for a new coach, new system to come in in a shorter period like that.”
The Caps are 0-3 under Oates. They have been outscored 14-6 and have allowed five more power-play goals than they’ve scored.
The other day Oates said it took about five games before the Hershey Bears began playing the system Oates installed at the start of the NHL lockout.
The learning curve may take longer at the NHL level but that has not dissuaded the Caps players from believing their coach has them on the right path.
“When [the Devils] started getting used to that system they were almost unstoppable,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “They didn’t come out at the beginning of the year and have everyone pick them to make it to the Final. It took some time for them to get it down perfect. But once they did we got crushed by them every time we played them. We’ll figure it out and once we do well be pretty dangerous.”
The key, of course, is being persistent and patient at the same time. Oates said he saw that transformation take place last season under DeBoer, who replaced John MacLean behind the Devils bench but decided to retain Oates as an assistant.
“I’m very thankful to Pete DeBoer because he didn’t know me before last year and he didn’t have to bring me back and he did,” Oates said. “He’s in some form responsible for helping me get this job.”
Oates spent just two seasons with the Devils but in that time he said he learned a lot about the value of doing things the right way on and off the ice. That begins, he said, with general manager Lou Lamoriello.
“Lou created a culture a long time ago that’s still there,” Oates said. “There are always instances where things get sideways, but it gets pulled back. The bus gets driven and it’s always going to be the same. No. 1 is that the team is bigger than the individual. That’s a rule Lou will never let get broken. No way. And I believe in a lot f of those same rules.”