When New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello received a phone call from Capitals general manager George McPhee a few days after the Devils were eliminated in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Lamoriello had a pretty good idea it wasnt to discuss a trade.
In Adam Oates, Lamoriello knew he had a head coach in waiting and there was nothing he could do to stop the process.
Its something that he wanted and Im just glad it worked out for him, Lamoriello told told The Bergen Record. Hes been great for us, solid in every way, and its a great opportunity for him. Were totally supportive of it.
Oates, 49, will be formally introduced as the Capitals new head coach at a 3 p.m. news conference today at Verizon Center.
By hiring Oates, McPhee continued his record of hiring coaches with no previous NHL head coaching experience. Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon and Bruce Boudreau all arrived in Washington without having served as a head coach behind an NHL bench.
I dont know Adam very well, Boudreau told CSNwashington.com, but Im sure if George is happy with it, its a good choice.
Lamoriello said he does not see the transition from being an assistant to a head coach as a big one for Oates.
Theres no question hes got those qualities, Lamoriello said. This will be the first time and its different experiences, but I believe hes capable and ready for it.
Oates is credited with improving the Devils power play from 28th in the NHL at 14.4 percent to 14th in the league at 17.2 percent.
On his blog, Teds Take, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis strongly supported Oates hiring, writing, We are thrilled. Adam is a great hockey mind his knowledge is very relevant to players today. He was a true leader for our team, he knows our market, and he is a hard worker.