Oates, no fighting in rookie game

Oates, no fighting in rookie game
September 9, 2013, 10:45 am
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Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates reacts from the bench against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-5 in overtime.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Back in the day, you could count on the first rookie game of training camp to be a hard-hitting, high-scoring, glove-dropping mess.

In a good way, of course.

Today at 3 p.m., the Capitals and Flyers will meet at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for a scrimmage between the two organizations’ top rookies. The game, which will be streamed live on www.MonumentalNetwork.com, promises to be hard-hitting and high-scoring, but Caps coach Adam Oates would like to see the gloves stay on.

“I’m not in control of that decision, but I would hope there’s no fighting, personally,” Oates said.

“You want contact, you want intensity, but let’s not turn it into a rodeo. There’s no reason for that.”

The Capitals have a handful of rookies who have a reputation for scrapping. Right wing Tom Wilson and defensemen Michal Cajkovsky, Tyler Lewington and Jaynen Rissling each have put up 100 or more penalty minutes in a season and all have been itching to show what they can do.

The same goes for the Flyers’ rookies Scott Laughton, Samuel Morin and Matt Konan, three more members of the 100-minute club.

Oates said the decision over whether to allow fighting in today’s game, which marks the end of each club’s rookie camp, will be made by general managers George McPhee and Paul Holmgren.

“I’m sure [they’ll] talk about it and we’ll have some guidelines,” Oates said. “The league has changed a lot, but obviously that’s still an element to a lot of guys’ games and they’re trying to impress.

“Guys are going to do what they can to impress the boss and if that’s part of their skill set it’s hard to say don’t do that. But that comes from a maturity level at the top, right?”

It’s fair to say the last thing either team wants is for one of their star prospects breaking a hand in a meaningless rookie game.

“There’s no easy out, but you don’t want someone to get hurt,” Oates said. “This is an evaluation game. Yeah, you want to win, but guys are trying to impress so they can get some kind of job.”

The Caps rookies are expected to be coached by new Hershey Bears coach Mike Haviland. The Flyers rookies are expected to be coached by former Caps head coach Terry Murray, who is now head coach of their AHL affiliate Adirondack Phantoms.

Oates, who will welcome veterans for physicals and fitness testing on Wednesday, said he’s anxious to finally see a real hockey game.

“I’m excited to see the game because it’s going to be more intense, more action,” he said. “There will be contact. It’s a game. It’s hard to watch every day of practice.”

What are your thoughts?