WASHINGTON (AP) — Once again, a Washington Capitals leadership baton is passed from Dale Hunter to Adam Oates.
More than a decade after Oates followed Hunter as captain, a similar transition happened Tuesday when Oates was hired as the Capitals coach.
Except for one major exception: the one happened to fall on the same day Oates was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Even as he was joining Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin and Pavel Bure in the Hall, Oates joined Washington six weeks after Hunter's abrupt resignation. Hunter led the team to the second round of the playoffs as a midseason replacement before deciding he would rather be at home with his family, his farm and the junior club he owns in Canada.
So next up is Oates, 49, who played 19 seasons as a center in the NHL, including parts of six seasons with the Capitals from 1996-2002. His 290 assists rank 10th in team history, and he and Hunter were part of the 1997-98 team that made the only Stanley Cup finals appearance to date in franchise history.
When Hunter was traded in March 1999, Oates was selected as captain for the following season.
Oates, who will be formally introduced at a news conference Wednesday, has spent the last three seasons as an NHL assistant, first with the Tampa Bay Lightning before moving to the New Jersey Devils in 2010. He was part of the staff that helped lead the Devils to this year's Stanley Cup finals, which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
"I know a lot about him as a player," the Capitals' Troy Brouwer said in Chicago, where he's attending union meetings. "Obviously, being inducted into the Hall of Fame helps his credibility and his stature, but guys already know that he was able to do a lot of good things in his career. He was able to be a good offensive impact player on any team that he played for, and I think he's probably going to bring some of that mentality to our team."
Brouwer was actually hoping the job would go to Mike Haviland, an assistant in Chicago when he played there. Haviland was recently fired by the Blackhawks.