Could Adam Oates Return To Washington As Head Coach?

The 2011-12 NHL season was extended by a couple of days Wednesday night after the New Jersey Devils staved off a Stanley Cup Finals sweep and defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 3-1 in Game 4. Game 5 isn't until Saturday night, which gives hockey fans a few more days to ponder the coming depressing, perfectly avoidable, momentum-killing, soul-crushing lockout offseason and what moves might be made.

Since Capitals General Manager George McPhee is taking his sweet time in finding a new head coach to replace the departed Dale Hunter, the floor is open to all sorts of speculation and conjecture.

And here's the latest example of that from CBC's Elliotte Friedman in his 30 Thoughts column from June 1.

Don't be surprised if Adam Oates gets an interview in Washington. He played there (for George McPhee) when the Capitals went to the final in 1998 and is a huge part of the New Jersey coaching staff. There are a lot of parallels between good friends Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin, and Oates played an important role in getting the former to fit in with the Devils.

As Friedman notes, current New Jersey assistant Oates, like Hunter, is a former Capital, though for whatever reason he doesn't inspire the reverence that many long-time fans have for Hunter. We wrote immediately after Hunter's resignation last month that the perfect man for this Capitals team would be a Larry Robinson-type of coach (even if, sadly, the prospect of Oates' fellow New Jersey assistant Robinson taking another head coaching job seems unlikely), someone who has a championship pedigree as both a player and as a coach.

Oates doesn't have the rings, but may very well fulfill McPhee's requirements. Stay tuned ...

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