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Halak’s agent ‘bewildered’ by Oates’ remarks prior to Blues game

Adam Oates

Head coach Adam Oates of the Washington Capitals watches the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center on February 5, 2013 in Washington, DC. (February 4, 2013 - Source: Greg Fiume/Getty Images North America)

There were some eyebrows raised yesterday when Caps head coach Adam Oates started Braden Holtby over Jaroslav Halak in a must-win game against St. Louis, especially after Oates said Halak all but asked out of the start because he didn’t feel comfortable facing his former team.

Today, those eyebrows were further raised when Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, jumped to the defense of his client while taking Oates to task.

“Jaro never at anytime said he didn’t want to start against St. Louis,” Walsh explained, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. “A private conversation between a player and coach should stay private and not be discussed with the media.

“I am bewildered that a coach would break that trust, especially when those comments the coach publicly attributed to Jaro are not accurate.”

There was also this, from CBS Sports Radio’s Andy Strickland:

Jaro Halak tells me he never told #Caps Head Coach he didn’t want to play against #stlblues. Halak says what’s out there isn’t true.

— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) April 9, 2014

Halak says I told him if he wants me to play I’ll play. In reference to #Caps coach Adam Oates

— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) April 9, 2014

Oates’ full comments, for the record:

“We know the feelings when you go into your old stomping ground and it’s not always easy and you’re not always comfortable, at least the first time. We talked to [Halak] and he just wasn’t 100 percent comfortable.

“Unfortunately this time of year and where we’re at, we can’t afford that and Holts has played great lately. We feel really good about that and Holts is playing.”

Odd development, to say the least. Oates has a history of being pretty blunt and direct when speaking to the media -- just last week he accused Alex Ovechkin of quitting on a goal allowed against Dallas -- but this situation is a little more convoluted, especially since 1) Halak is refuting his head coach’s claims, 2) the Caps might actually need to use Halak over their final three games, and 3) this could essentially torpedo any chance of Halak, a pending UFA, re-upping in Washington this summer.