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.

Oates:

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.

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Failure in Sochi brought big changes to the Russian hockey team. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov and the whole coaching staff (except one guy) were sacked, as was the general manager. The Russian Federation of Hockey (FHR) didn’t stop there: they also changed the team’s PR man, Mikhail Zakharov. Stepping in for him was a controversial figure: Sport-Express’ Igor Larin.

Choosing a member of the press to run media relations is already questionable (it’s like hiring a pilot to be an airline operator), but Larin’s candidacy seemed a bad idea from day one.

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It’s hard to know exactly what you’re going to get out of a general manager, especially one that has never been a general manager before.

After spending the past thirteen seasons in DC, seven as assistant general manager, Brian MacLellan has been promoted by Ted Leonsis and Dick Patrick on Monday.

Does GMBM have the credentials? It’s hard to know exactly. The Caps tell us he’s won a Stanley Cup as a player, though he was a bit of a passenger on that Cup-winning Flames team in 1989. He played 606 career NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings. MacLellan was also a teammate of McPhee’s at Bowling Green for four seasons.

The Caps tell us MacLellan oversaw the club’s professional scouting staff (the evaluation of dudes at the NHL level) and worked closely with the Hershey Bears, who won Calder Cups in 2006, 2009, and 2010. The Bears, who dominated in the early years of their affiliation– when Washington was rebuilding– have faltered since – missing the playoffs completely this season after aggressively signing minor-league free agents last summer. The Bears watched head coach Mark French leave the organization, who has since gotten rave reviews leading the KHL’s expansion Medveščak Zagreb. Medveščak made the KHL playoffs last season.

On Monday, Leonsis– as open and upfront as he can– wrote a long blog post about the hiring, hinting that MacLellan winning the job was a surprise even for him.

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Willie Desjardins of AHL’s Texas Stars is one of the best coaches not currently in the NHL (Photo: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The common thought among Capitals fans is that the team’s new coach must have NHL experience. The Caps last five hires — Adam Oates, Dale Hunter, Bruce Boudreau, Glen Hanlon, and Bruce Cassidy — were all rookie head coaches. This time around, names like Barry Trotz and John Stevens are getting a lot of buzz, whereas Willie Desjardins and Phil Housley are getting little.

Experience matters. All other things being equal, you should hire the guy with more experience, but that does not mean the Caps should discount what a rookie coach might bring. Because if a coach’s best quality is his experience, that’s not a great sign.

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Should the Washington Capitals Sign Ryan Miller?

After extending Brian Elliott on Monday, the St. Louis Blues appear unlikely to sign UFA goalie Ryan Miller. Miller, you recall, spent his entire career with Buffalo up until the 2014 trade deadline, when he jumped to St. Louis. Miller put up a .903 save percentage with the Blues over 19 games. I guess that was all Doug Armstrong needed to see.

Now, once again, we face an interesting question: should the Capitals sign Miller? Do they need stability in net before they can jumpstart their offense? Would an injection of experience even out a weary defense? Can he make the big saves in big games, which are definitely more important than the small saves in minuscule games.

Let’s weigh the matter carefully.

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The home team led their lower-seeded opponent three games to one. Then the goalie got hot.

In those final games, the opposing goalie put up a brick wall and his defense kept shots to the outside. Despite a massive advantage in possession, the home team– a favorite to win the Cup– lost game seven.

Despair reigned. The team’s star, an exemplar of offense, failed to score when it counted most. The team’s goalie looked manifestly flawed.

So the team looked inward. Where did we go wrong? Is this the wrong way to play? Who do we blame?

All the eyes turned to the coach.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

With George McPhee out, the Capitals have a vacancy at the GM slot. But all the buzz in recent days has been about a position higher than that: the newfangled President of Hockey Operations, which sounds to me like general manager, but what do I know?

I’m sure you’ve heard the scuttlebutt. Word on the street is the Caps might bring in one of the biggest names in sports to become the big boss in Arlington. A real pro star, if you catch my drift.

I’m here to say that’s a real good idea. Actually, it’s a great one.

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jeff-schultz-not-awkward

Photo: Debora Robinson

Last summer, the Washington Capitals bought out the final season of Jeff Schultz’s four-year, $11 million deal. The 6’6”, 227-pound defenseman fell out of favor with Caps brass, and the Calgary, Alberta native asked for a trade. When they couldn’t find a willing partner, they bought him out. The Caps ended up using Sarge’s $2.75 million cap hit on Mikhail Grabovski, and we all said goodbye. It was time.

Over the summer, Schultz signed with the Los Angeles Kings. He didn’t make their team out of training camp, so he spent the entire season with American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. He put up pedestrian numbers there–two goals and 11 assists– but Sarge has never been a stellar boxcar stat guy. On Monday night, with Robyn Regehr injured, Schultz was given a jersey by Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He looked like a changed player.

It was weird– and not only because he was playing his first NHL game since DC against Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks.

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Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is going to win the Hart trophy at the end of the season. Not only was Sid the only guy to score 100 points this year, he is also a good defensive player too. That’s why on Friday night against the New York Rangers, I was surprised to see Crosby completely give up on a play in the defensive zone.

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Why I Gave Up My Season Tickets

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[Ed. note: Eric Bovim shares his perspective as an aggrieved season-ticket holder. - Peter]

I have invested nearly $60,000 since 2008 as a season ticket holder into the Washington Capitals. But it’s time to put that to an end.

Even with the overdue changes to the Caps front office announced this weekend, I have decided to give up my tickets as a protest to ownership. I doubt the voice of a lone STH matters much to them; no doubt they will quickly sell my two seats in my section 102, row F to someone on their waiting list. Management never knew me. But I will not let them forget about why I have made the decision to forfeit my precious seats.

For the past 6 seasons, from those seats by the faceoff circle near the glass, I have seen it all. I remember the time I took my little boy to his first game – early 2009 – when he was merely two and a half. Alex was so young then I had to bring along his diaper and pacifier. His mother packed him his bottle. I bundled him up. We were playing the Canadiens. Jose Theodore was out goalie then. We won 3-0. I still remember his face that night at the game, him cheers along with the Horn Guy, him falling asleep later that season in the third period as the Caps rallied to beat Detroit. He stayed asleep even as Verizon Center celebrated a vintage Mike Green goal. I stood and held him as he slept. It was not easy, but it was fun.

We saw many other games over the years together. We became quite comfortable at Verizon together. We had our pre-game dinners all mapped out. He made his tour around the concourse, seeking free handouts from the Red Rockers. When I told him that I had given up the seats he was rightly upset. The games with dad were a childhood ritual that I have abruptly ended. He expected to be able to go. It would be hard to explain to him, however, that I expected much more from the Capitals this year, and that I felt like I was pouring my money down a hole.

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