Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates will serve as a "co-coach" with the team's AHL affiliate in Hershey during the NHL lockout, the Caps announced Sunday.
With the start of the 2012-13 NHL season in jeopardy and training camp and preseason games already canceled, Oates, along with assistant coach Calle Johansson and associate goalie coach Olaf Kolzig, were in Hershey Sunday for the beginning of the Bears' training camp (the AHL season is not affected by the NHL lockout and will proceed as scheduled).
Oates will remain with the Bears, who open the regular season Oct. 13, and work alongside Bears head coach Mark French, staying "very involved" in the day-to-day operations of the team, according to Capitals General Manager George McPhee.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for all of our coaches in the organization to work together to learn the nuances of our system of play,” McPhee told the Caps' Mike Vogel. “We also think it’s a great opportunity for our NHL coaches to get to work with our young players and frankly to give them something to do. There’s no sense in them sitting in Washington when they could be active in Hershey.”
In this arrangement, Oates, who had never been a head coach at any level before being hired by Washington in June, will be able to gain some experience behind the bench while also helping to implement his style of play in Hershey, where the Caps' top prospects will operate under a similar system.
McPhee also told Vogel that Johansson as well as fellow assistants Tim Hunter and Blaine Forsythe will also be working with Hershey and possibly the Caps' ECHL affiliate in Reading, Pa.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.