Adam Oates didn’t say it directly, that he should have been treated differently in Washington, but there was meaning behind his words.
Speaking as a guest on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Brady & Walker Show on Friday, his first public interview since being fired as head coach of Capitals on April 26, Oates was asked about the Maple Leafs’ decision to give embattled coach Randy Carlyle a two-year contract extension.
“I actually like what the Toronto brass did yesterday extending him,” Oates said. “He’s proven to be a good hockey coach, and now it tells the fans to be quiet in Toronto. They got a guy, and they’re going to stand by him and give him a chance to really improve the team and keep going.”
Oates was not given that chance in Washington, despite the fact the Capitals finished with 90 points this season, six more than the Leafs. In his two seasons behind the bench the Caps went 65-48-17.
Before Oates landed his head coaching job in Washington, he had served as an assistant with Tampa Bay and New Jersey. The Hockey Hall of Famer said he’s eager to get back behind the bench if the right situation presents itself. In the meantime, he will be doing some playoff analysis for Hockey Night in Canada.
“Working with the Caps was fantastic. I love it. I love the puzzle,” Oates said.
Since Rick Tocchet first hired him as an assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009, Oates said he has “really, really enjoyed” working behind the bench in Tampa, New Jersey and Washington and would like to return to the coaching ranks.
“Working with the Devils was fantastic and working with the Caps was fantastic,” Oates said. “I mean, I love it. I love the puzzle. If anything, we had a little bit of an off-year this year. We had a couple guys hurt; things didn’t quite go the way we planned.
“Do I love coaching? Yeah. Would I welcome another opportunity? Yeah, if it made sense. For sure.”
Oates, who had one year remaining on his three-year contract with the Capitals, was asked if working under a general manager in the final year of his contract made things more difficult for him to get the players he needed.
Oates said that if George McPhee’s tenuous situation in Washington impacted the roster moves he made, he didn’t see it.
“If it was, he never showed it to me,” Oates said. “We all do our best. I did my best; he did his best. I’m sure in hindsight he probably wishes he did things different. Same for myself. There’s always situations you think of. If he was feeling that way he never showed it to me.”