“We are very pleased to name Adam Oates as the new head coach of the Washington Capitals,” said McPhee. “Adam was a highly intelligent player in the NHL for 19 seasons. He has been an assistant coach in our conference for the past three seasons and is prepared to lead our club as head coach.”
Oates, 49, becomes the 16th head coach in Washington Capitals history and will make his head coaching debut after three seasons as an assistant coach. Oates became an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2009-10 season before moving to New Jersey in 2010. He was behind the bench as an assistant for the Devils’ Stanley Cup playoff-run last season.
Oates played 19 seasons in the NHL from 1985-2004, appearing in 1,337 games and collecting 1,420 points (341 goals, 1,079 assists) with Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton. Only Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux averaged more assists per-game than Oates in the NHL history. During the 1990’s only Gretzky (662) recorded more assists than Oates (636).
The Weston, Ontario, native ranks sixth all-time in assists and 16th all-time in points in NHL history. Oates ranks 25th in NHL history in playoff points, having recorded 156 points (42 goals, 114 assists) in 163 career playoff games. The former center led or was tied for the league lead in assists three times in his career (1992-93, 2000-01 and 2001-02) and ranked in the top-10 in assists in 12 of his 19 seasons. Oates was named an NHL All-Star five times (1991-94 and 1997) and was a six-time Lady Bing finalist during his career (runner-up in four straight seasons).
Oates played in 387 games for the Capitals from 1996-2002, compiling 363 points (73 goals, 290 assists). He ranks 18th in scoring and 10th in assists among all players in the Capitals history. Wearing No. 77 for the Capitals, Oates was an alternate captain during the 1997-98 season before serving as the team’s captain from 1999-01 campaign.
Oates was originally signed as an un-drafted free agent by the Detroit Red Wings on June 28, 1985, after spending four seasons with R.P.I. of the NCAA. After stints in Detroit, St. Louis and Boston, he was traded to Washington by Boston with Bill Ranford and Rick Tocchet for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, Jason Allison and Washington's 3rd round choice (Lee Goren) in the 1997 Entry Draft, March 1, 1997. After playing parts of six seasons with the Capitals, including the team’s run to the 1998 Stanley Cup final, Oates was traded to Philadelphia by Washington for Maxime Ouellet and Philadelphia's 1st (later traded to Dallas - Dallas selected Martin Vagner), 2nd (Maxime Daigneault) and 3rd (Derek Krestanovich) round choices in the 2002 Entry Draft, March 19, 2002. Oates spent time with Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton before his retirement on April 3, 2004.
Oates joined the Tampa Bay Lightning as an assistant coach for the 2009-10 season, helping the team go 34-36-12. He joined the New Jersey Devils staff the following season as the Devils went 38-39-5. Last season Oates helped the Devils finish with a record of 48-28-6 as New Jersey reached the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 2003.