NHL’s new coaches have work to do when league begins again

Adam Oates is waiting for his first game as the Capitals’ head coach.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Adam Oates is waiting for his first game as the Capitals’ head coach.

Every NHL team will be behind when the league is operating again, but only four will be breaking in a new head coach. Their task of reestablishing a team identity will be a little bit tougher.

Adam Oates, Capitals

To-do list:

• Tweak an offense that finished an inexplicable 10th in the East in scoring.


• Get the most out of the best, Alex Ovechkin (career-low 65 points last season).

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• Shed label of underachievers: Caps haven’t gone past East semis since 1998.

Bob Hartley, Flames

To-do list:

• End three-year playoff drought playing in tough Northwest Division.

• Nurture young talent: Flames’ top 10 scorers last season were 28 or older.


• Maintain momentum created by departed coach Brent Sutter.

Ralph Krueger, Oilers

To-do list:

• Prove himself on an NHL bench; Krueger, 53, is a former European standout.

• Pull together one of the league’s most talented and youngest cores.

• Give goalie Devan Dubnyk, 26, more time while keeping him on an upward trend.

Michel Therrien, Canadiens


To-do list:

• Win back a fan base that turned on the team during an ugly 2011-12 season.

• Show that he’s not the same coach who won 77 and lost 77 with Habs from 2000-03.

• Make the power play (ranked 28th last season) equal to the penalty kill (2d).