Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Caps' Adam Oates on Ovi, communication, NYR, home ice ...
Covered Caps practice in Arlington, Va. and wrote a piece on Alex Ovechkin for tomorrow, and re-discovered a class act: Adam Oates, the former assistant coach and Hall of Fame playmaker who has helped turn around Ovechkin and this franchise.
Here's some excerpts from his open and wide-ranging discussion with the media:
Oates on the difference between playing and coaching in the playoffs:
“Very different. Players play the game, our job is to prepare them; so you have butterflies as a coach, but not like you do a player. It’s their game.”
Reporter: “A lot of guys told me they don’t get any butterflies…”
Oates: “They better tomorrow.”
Oates on Ovechkin’s surge:
“Just like everybody, when you’re scoring more, you’re involved in the game, I think Marcus (Johansson) back from injury, Greenie back from injury, Backie (Nicklas Backstrom) feeling better, there’s a lot of little subplots that I think have helped him.”
Oates on the comparison with himself and Brett Hull:
“Ovie and Backie talk, they have the same conversations (on ice that we did). Stuff you see, like a husband-and-wife chemistry, you talk about every nuance of everything and what you were thinking at particular time…Hully still texts me after games.”
Oates on mid-ice play:
“Every team is good in the neutral zone. We talked a lot about the Rangers in the neutral zone. It’s one part of the game that the league is trying to figure out, fix, and it’s tough because guys are very well coached, all over; we have our share of turnovers, but we make our share of mistakes in the neutral zone.”
On why he prefers direct communication with players:
“It’s a different generation. (When I played), if anything you would talk to an assistant coach. This was what I wanted….Today, everything is front and center, everything is out in the open, guys watch their own shifts, we never used to even have video, you can’t hide, there’s nothing that’s not known about…..I wanted it as a player, but I think it’s changed because of the evolution of social media, more video and you get to see everything now, every game. Even the fans get to see everything now, with all the camera angles, it’s just grown; I think every player started getting more in junior and college, so when they get here, the guys expect it, it’s part of their life now…Everything matters. Every guy knows how much he plays, every second, how many shots he’s had, he knows every other guys stat, there’s no secrets; so when a guy asks a question, and I encourage it, I might not be able to answer you right this second, but you’ll get one tomorrow.”
Any examples of players telling him things?
“We played Ottawa, Mike Green brought up a point to me that I hadn’t thought of in a long time that I thought was a great point. After the game the next day, we were in Montreal at practice and we were skating around and we talked about it. It was something that I thought was very important and I think that was good communication between me and him, but it was his point.”
More on Green:
“My feeling on Greenie at the beginning of the year was people had expectations of him scoring 30 goals every year and I want him to be available to have the puck as much as possible. H e makes good decisions with the puck, that’s part of his skill set, so as many times as I get the puck in his hands, that’s more important to me to get it into the other end, as opposed to joining the rush at the other end and scoring a goal…That was part of the communication: You’re still going to get your chances, but I don’t want to trade off his touches in the neutral zone and our end.”
On the Rangers:
“They’re a very good hockey team; we have total respect for them…Nash is a top player in this league, another guy we’ve got to worry about…They obviously want (Staal) back.”
What to tell a player before his first playoff game:
“You’re gonna play at home, it’s going to be electric, try and not get too emotional too early, then you get a little letdown halfway through, which is a hard thing. You go through that as a player. You’ve got to control that.”
Are you a believer in home ice?
“To a point. You want to play in front of your crowd and you feel better in your own barn, but these two teams know each other very well, you go into Madison Square Garden and its exciting for these guys too, it’s like home ice almost for them…”
“We’ll wait and see what their lines are exactly. Throughout the course of a game it changes, the score dictates it sometimes.”