Oates making most of his time with Hershey

Oates making most of his time with Hershey
October 22, 2012, 12:30 pm
Share This Post

All things considered, Adam Oates, Tim Hunter and Calle Johansson would much rather be on the Kettler ice today, getting the Capitals ready to face Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night.

But instead of coaching their seventh game with the Capitals, the trio was back at Kettler on Monday discussing what they had seen during the past three weeks in Hershey, their temporary home during the NHL lockout.

“The biggest benefit is to be involved in the game of hockey right now,” Oates said. “It’s a very tough time for all of us, players and management. Until it gets resolved we’re all in a state of limbo, so to be involved every day with some form of hockey is good.”

Since Oates and his staff joined Mark French and his assistant coach Troy Mann, the Bears have gone 1-2-1 – all of them one-goal games. They followed a 4-3 season-opening loss in Syracuse with a 3-2 win at Binghampton, followed by a wild 8-7 home loss to Rochester and a 2-1 overtime loss to Binghamton, also at home.

Despite the slow start, Oates said he’s been impressed with the commitment level of the Bears players, saying it’s higher than he remembers when he played for the Adirondack Red Wings in 1985.

“I’ve been impressed with the detail that the guys are willing to go through,” he said. “That’s not really what I remembered. It’s very structured and the guys are very professional. The talent level is very good and a lot of guys have stood out.”

Oates said he’s been particularly impressed with defensemen Dmitry Orlov [3 assists] and Tomas Kundradek [1 goal, 2 assists] and forwards Jeff Taffe [2 goals, 5 assists, plus-2], Ryan Potulny [2 assists, plus1], Boyd Kane [1 assist, plus-2] and Mattias Sjogren [1 goal, minus-2].

Oates said he’s still tweaking the puck possession system he’s trying to install with the Bears, mostly because it requires more intense skating better suited for a league that has days off between games. The Bears are coming off a weekend in which they played three games in three nights.  

“It’s very taxing on the players,” Oates said. “Can they keep doing that system in a schedule like that because our {NHL] schedule is not based on that. So that’s something we’re talking about.”

The Bears return to action on Friday when they visit Connecticut, followed by home games Saturday and Sunday against Albany and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.