Photo credit: AP
Alex Ovechkin never complained about the locked-down, grinding system that the Capitals played while Dale Hunter coached the team. Despite his decreased role and the emphasis on defense, Ovechkin often stated that he understood that it was about the team, and that he would accept whatever role he was given. Hunter appeared to leave town on good terms with the Russian star.
Now that a new coach has finally been hired though, Ovi is finally speaking up about the style he likes to play.
“It’s not blocking the shots and it’s not dump and chase,” Ovechkin told the press at NHLPA meetings today, when asked about the hire of Caps alum Adam Oates. “Any system that I play I learn a lot. I’m an offensive guy, it’s not a secret to anybody, and I’m pretty excited and very happy to hear the Caps signed that kind of guy who likes offense.”
Oates, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the same afternoon as being hired by the Caps, is considered one of the best playmakers of all time, with 1079 career assists. He was also known as a power play specialist, and was in charge of special teams in his time as assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils, whose power play clicked at a respectable 17.2% this year.
Presumably, part of this coaching hire has to do with franchise player Ovechkin, who has seen his scoring game decline through a number of changes in the Capitals’ system. Ovechkin has at times shown willingness to commit to more defensive styles of play, but as a player who used to score in bunches, it’s clear where his heart lies.
“I just talked to him briefly and he seems to be a great person,” said Ovechkin, who says he called Oates immediately to congratulate him. “I’m looking forward to working with him and again, you’re always excited when something big happens with your team. I hope we’re going to work well and we’re going to play and we’re going to win I think.”
It sounds like he’s about ready to be let off the leash.