HERSHEY, PA – Braden Holtby and Adam Oates speak before Group B’s practice at Giant Center Sunday (Kyle Mace – Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
Hockey season is back, and the Bears are back on the ice. The first day of camp came with some big news when Adam Oates was name co-coach of the Bears until a CBA is agreed on.
Oates wasn’t surprised by being named co-coach of the Bears today. It had been discussed earlier in the week. “It was an idea from George (McPhee) that to me made a lot of sense. To have an opportunity, given the collective bargaining agreement to come down here and continue the learning curve and be a co-coach with (Mark French) here in Hershey and be a part of it made perfect sense”.
Oates and French are still working on the logistics on being co-coaches, but Oates will be on the bench. “I have a feeling it may happen with some other teams. We’re still trying to figure everything out.” This is also the first time Oates has been a head coach, so starting with the Bears will certainly help the new Caps boss. “It’s a different hat and that’s why I welcomed it. If I can get one percent better as a coach, it makes sense. To work with Mark French, who’s a very good hockey coach and a good hockey man, I look at it as a win-win situation.”
Oates will have to go back to his minor league roots and ride the bus to road games with the Bears. “It’s part of the job, to be part of the game and stay in it. I’m looking forward to coaching and being part of hockey. It’s a weird situation having a lockout and we’re all kind of spinning our wheels waiting for it to end. You just want to be a part of the game. You wake up everyday just wanting to be part of the game. It’s here and we are looking forward to it.”
Mark French is very excited about the assistance he will have for this upcoming season. “I think what we have is a lot of good people and a lot of good hockey minds. We’ll sit down and figure out how this is going to work. It’s a good learning chance for a number of people on the staff. We just have to make sure it comes across the right way to the players.”
French also seemed very happy with how the play looked today. “I liked both groups today. I thought the execution was good. We taught a new forecheck today so there was a little bit of a learning curve. I thought they entered it with an open mind. and were quick learners.”
This was also a new thing for the Bears as camp started early due to the lockout. “Usually for the Bears first day of training camp the guys have been on the ice for two weeks in the NHL camp,” said French. “That was the biggest adjustment. It’s how to push them hard enough in three days because they need to work, but not to overdo it because they haven’t been on the ice. It’s a bit of a foreign concept to us so we’ll try and find a balance.”