Former head coach Adam Oates was on Hockey Night in Canada radio a couple weeks ago to talk about his new role as an HNIC analyst. At the top of interview, Oates dropped this wisdom: “You wouldn’t like it if someone said something about you.”
So true. Please keep in mind as we move along.
Oates went on to discuss what it was like to coach known coach-killer Alex Ovechkin (“Just to set the record straight, I loved it… For me he was very coachable.”), how every detail of the game is not scrutinized (“It’s blogged. It’s twitted.”), and what team he likes in the playoffs (the Kings). Then, at the end of the interview, Oates told a story, ostensibly about how much he misses playing.
When we played Toronto this year, we went to the shootout. I had Grabovski on my team. And he grabbed me right away and he said he didn’t wanna shoot. And I’m like, “Why not?” I didn’t tell him if I had him in my list or not. Obviously, he was a little nervous against [his former team] Toronto. So I didn’t put him in, and after the game I went up to him and I went, “Hey, if you skated down the ice and you fell down and they laughed at you… They all wanna be on the ice, man, and I miss it. I miss that feeling of nerves every day.”
Rob Pizzo responded, “That’s a great story.”
No, it’s not.
First of all, it kind of falls apart there at the end. Oates doesn’t tell you which team won (hint: it’s not the Caps). He does some run-on sentences and uses some ambiguous pronouns. And the conclusion is all about himself rather than the purported subject of the story, Grabovski.
Plus: Oates left out the part where Grabovski took a skate blade to the face earlier in that game, requiring a bunch of stitches and nearly costing him an eye. I remember it. The date was November 23, 2013.
Grabovski’s absence from the shootout list meant Troy Brouwer took his spot and missed the net completely. It was a point of much discussion in the game recap:
MuzzMuzzington: Using Brouwer instead of Grabo in the shootout against his old team was like [CENSORED / THIS IS A FAMILY BLOG].
Graham: Maybe Grabo knew something we all don’t, ie that Reimer knows all his moves? You really think Oates just shanked him like that for no reason?
Myan: I thought maybe Grabo said something about not being able to see properly out of his eye because of the stitches?
There’s some merit to that last thought. Perhaps Grabovski’s alleged reluctance to shoot had more to do with the nearly career-ending injury he took less than an hour earlier than with fear of embarrassment.
And there’s one more salient point here: Oates told the media about another player requesting not to play against a former team. Oates did the same thing with Jaroslav Halak in March, basically ending that relationship, and now he’s done it again. And he did it all as an excuse to tell a story about how much he loves the game.
Oates probably didn’t mean to embarrass Grabovski, but this is the second time he’s failed to keep confidence. I wonder if management around the league notices this stuff and considers it in their staffing decisions.
Thanks to Raul for linking me to the interview.