New Caps coach caps day with Hall of Fame selection

Ben Raby,

WASHINGTON – The Washington Capitals’ next game is still more than three months away, but the Adam Oates era in D.C. is already off to a remarkable start.

The former Capitals captain finalized a deal late Tuesday morning to become the 16th head coach in team history, replacing former teammate Dale Hunter, who stepped down May 14. And hours after accepting his first ever head coaching position, Oates was one of four former players voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2012.

“Obviously it’s an absolute fantastic day,” Oates said Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened before. I’ve got to go out and play Lotto I think.

“It’s a huge honor – obviously I was very excited about the coaching job and then to be called to the Hall of Fame just makes it a special day for us.”

Oates joins the Capitals after spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. Prior to that, Oates was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10.

The 49-year-old is expected to bring an up-tempo style to the Caps and help restore some of the offensive flair that was missing under Hunter.

Oates was no stranger to the offensive game during his 19-year playing career, finishing with 341 goals and 1,079 assists. He is sixth all-time in assists and 16th all-time in overall scoring with 1,420 points.

Not bad for a guy who was never drafted and signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 1985.

“When the scouts look at the draft, they look at the big kids and the fast kids,” Oates explained, “and I was a small guy and a late bloomer. I kind of slipped through the cracks but that allowed me to go to college