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Halak’s agent ‘bewildered’ by Oates’ remarks prior to Blues game

Apr 9, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

Head coach Adam Oates of the Washington Capitals watches the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center on February 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.
(February 4, 2013 - Source: Greg Fiume/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

There were some eyebrows raised yesterday when Caps head coach Adam Oates started Braden Holtby over Jaroslav Halak in a must-win game against St. Louis, especially after Oates said Halak all but asked out of the start because he didn’t feel comfortable facing his former team.

Today, those eyebrows were further raised when Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, jumped to the defense of his client while taking Oates to task.

“Jaro never at anytime said he didn’t want to start against St. Louis,” Walsh explained, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. “A private conversation between a player and coach should stay private and not be discussed with the media.

“I am bewildered that a coach would break that trust, especially when those comments the coach publicly attributed to Jaro are not accurate.”

There was also this, from CBS Sports Radio’s Andy Strickland:

Oates’ full comments, for the record:

“We know the feelings when you go into your old stomping ground and it’s not always easy and you’re not always comfortable, at least the first time. We talked to [Halak] and he just wasn’t 100 percent comfortable.

“Unfortunately this time of year and where we’re at, we can’t afford that and Holts has played great lately. We feel really good about that and Holts is playing.”

Odd development, to say the least. Oates has a history of being pretty blunt and direct when speaking to the media — just last week he accused Alex Ovechkin of quitting on a goal allowed against Dallas — but this situation is a little more convoluted, especially since 1) Halak is refuting his head coach’s claims, 2) the Caps might actually need to use Halak over their final three games, and 3) this could essentially torpedo any chance of Halak, a pending UFA, re-upping in Washington this summer.

  1. stangz11 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Fire Oates

    • m1k3g - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      “O-a-t-e-s”

      Is that how they’re spelling “McPhee” in DC these days?

      • jaguar0413 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        They both should be fired, but Oates is the real problem here. The Caps have woefully underperformed with the talent level on the roster. People point out how bad the defense is, and rightly so because it has been bad, but Oates refuses to play the best 6 defensemen in the Caps system.

        McPhee two years in a row has attempted to help the team by acquiring talent at the deadline and Oates has refused to play both Erat and Penner in the top six (despite nearly everything indicating that he should). The guy can’t coach. Add in that he continually throws his players under the bus and it’s a no brainer. Fire him immediately.

      • m1k3g - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        Hey, I hear ya. But at the same time, McPhee has been on the job for a while now. Everyone can sit here and hem and haw about what’s going on and why they look so good on paper but still aren’t winning.

        As an outsider, the main problem is easy to see:

        They have no leadership to speak of on the ice (and probably in the locker room).

        As a Pens fan, part of me wants to chuckle at the Caps’ situation, but at the same time I honestly feel badly for Caps fans.

        At this point, they’re pretty much stuck with Ovechkin. He’s got an eternal contract and trading him would probably be too risky. I mean, what would they get in return to make it worthwhile?

        ….And he wears the C. What are you going to do? Take it from him and give it to someone else? He’d probably demand a trade at that point.

        It really is an unenviable situation. If I were Leonsis, I don’t know what I’d do.

        But I know this for damn near certain, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an athlete with so much skill and so little heart.

        A guy with his size and ability should easily be able to handle his defensive duties. Until that lazy bastard starts caring and realizes he can’t always be the last guy into the defensive zone, the Caps are pretty much screwed.

      • jaguar0413 - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:59 PM

        I could not disagree with you more. Ovechkin is not the problem. Where would this team be without him? Much lower in the standings. Even if he played Selke level defense, it wouldn’t matter. He plays the least important defensive position in the game. If he was a center, I would agree with you completely.

        It’s easy to pick out a couple of plays that he didn’t backcheck on with full effort, but I’m more concerned about the systematic problems of the Caps team defense. In Oates system, the wings play lower down towards the circle in the d zone, this leaves the points wide open for shots. It has killed the Caps all year both in terms of team possession and shots on goal.

        As for the leadership issue, everybody piles on Ovechkin, but who else is helping to lead this team? No one player (not even Messier) is capable of leading a team without a strong supporting cast. When the Pens won the cup, Crosby had veterans like Bill Guerin, Phillippe Boucher, Ruslan Fedotenko and Sergei Gonchar. Who does Ovechkin have? We only have two players who have won a Stanley Cup on the roster (Brouwer and Penner). So much of people questioning Ovechkin as being selfish has to do with the fact that he has to produce more for his team than any other player in the league. Just look at his goals as a percentage of the teams over the last 4 years. The guy can’t do everything.

      • m1k3g - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        Besides scoring PP goals, what exactly is it that he does exceptionally? How many coaches has he been through now? Remember when Boudreau was the problem? How’s Boudreau doing now?

        These are all fair questions. And as for picking a play here and there where he lapsed defensively, well that’s laughable.

        Have you ever seen this guy play in person? It’s a joke. He even cherry picks when he’s on the bench…. Holding the door open for PKers so he can stay right on the opposing team’s blue line.

    • c9castine - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      sounds to me like he was trying to cover his ass when put under pressure for his decision.

      if thats the case, what a bum move.

    • lowenni - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      As a Caps fan, I’m not a fan of Oates and I too think he needs to go. Here, however, I think he was not in the wrong. Prior to the game Halak said (from RMNB): Halak spoke with NHL.com’s Lou Korac, saying, “It’s still too fresh. Maybe if it was under different circumstances, like next year, you know.” He did say something to Oates, and in fact he spoke with the media about it as well. In my opinion, this is Allan Walsh, who is known to have a big mouth and be a bit of a d**k, trying to protect Halak’s free agent market value. If these comments leak, then Halak comes off as a semi-competitive goalie without drive. If they don’t, then his market value is very high. That being said, Walsh also says “a conversation between a player and a coach should remain private”, hinting that there WAS in fact a conversation about it between Jaro and Oates. Sounds suspicious to me from Allan Walsh.

      • pastabelly - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:35 AM

        I always thought Oates was a class act when he starred in Boston and still do. Halak is an ungrateful prick who should turn in 1/82 of his salary to the team for his gutless and unprofessional behavior. Oates believes Halak disgraced the uniform. By the way, Montreal made the right move in keeping Price over Halak. Time for damage control from Walsh and Halak. I know Vancouver needs a goalie, but they should also avoid Halak. If Oates damaged Halak’s market value, Halak really should just blame the man in the mirror.

    • billiam55 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      how is oates the problem for this mediocre team? fire the gm!

      • jaguar0413 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2014/04/02/fire-adam-oates-yes-or-yes-or-no-but-cmon-yes/

        Oates is the problem.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        lol I read that article on RMNB, but I didn’t notice the URL.

    • valoisvipers - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      Oates did the right thing as Holtby and the Caps picked up the win.

  2. killhowe - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    No chance Halak resigns in Washington. Oates better get use to starting Holtby anyways.

    • govtminion - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      Before this, I’d have said he might re-sign there. Now, with his agent pissed off… not so much.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        i dont think anyone who has a choice wants to re-sign there. i heard mike green has been quietly trying to get traded since 2011…the organization is just a complete cluster these days.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        Mike Green’s play indicates otherwise, pelle.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        no one wants to re-sign there. i heard mike green has quietly been trying to get traded since 2011…kinda makes me look at the last 3 seasons and him differently. the organization is a just a cluster f these days, i dont blame halak even if he is a weirdo too.

    • nj666 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      It’s going to be a crazy offseason for goalies.

  3. elemeno89 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    It’s a game. Friendships will last outside the 60 minutes spent inside the rink. Halak should know that.

    • claudegirwho - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      How do you know that they got along in St. Louis? I remember him being pissed about being sat a couple games and also he is pretty weird when it comes to goalie standards. Maybe they made fun of him for it and was a loner. Just saying I’m sure friendship wasn’t the reason he probably sat out the game

  4. thailer35 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    I just think a guy that looks that much like Ray Liotta is going to have interpersonal relationship problems.

    • m1k3g - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Maybe he should have pistol-whipped Ovechkin 4 months ago….

  5. patthehockeyfan - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Jeez. A coach and his players not on the same page. Bit of dysfunction there. Third parties stepping in. He said – she said – who said – what said.

    Hello? Is this becoming another Vancouver? Sure as hell hope so, and the Caps can get a GM and coach who know what the heck they’re doing.

    • ulrichsuter - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:40 PM

      What do you mean with “is this becoming another Vancouver?”

      It has been already another Vancouver for months….

  6. thesportsjudge - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    “Jaro never at anytime said he didn’t want to start against St. Louis,” Walsh explained, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. “A private conversation between a player and coach should stay private and not be discussed with the media.”

    No dog in this fight, but doesn’t what the agent say seem to contradict itself, at least a little bit?

    • jaguar0413 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      It’s two separate issues. 1) The reason behind starting Holtby is a lie. Oates flat-out lied about it and it’s not the first time he’s done something like this. 2) Private conversations between coaches and players should stay private. How else can the players be expected to trust the coaching staff?

      Halak has been battling a lower body injury for the last two weeks. If Oates needed an excuse, he simply could have said that the injury flared up. Instead he chose to throw Halak (who has been playing pretty well) under the bus.

    • trbowman - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      I don’t buy this crap. Halak told Oates, Oates told the media about it. Halak is embarrassed (as he should be, because it is embarrassing) so he’s trying to pretend the conversation never happened.

      • jaguar0413 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        WHY TELL THIS TO THE MEDIA? It makes no sense. You have to win every game. Does the team really need another distraction? He should have handled it internally if he had an issue.

        For someone that everybody around the league calls intelligent, Oates does a lot of unintelligent things.

  7. ibieiniid - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    they have some serious player handling problems in the Capital. seriously, it’s unbelievable how it’s gone from a place where everybody wants to play to a place where players request trades and player agents angrily refute coach’s comments within just a few years

    it’s gotta be Obama’s fault. that’s the only explanation.

    • c9castine - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      yeah its really deteriorated ever since some boudreau-ovechkin tensions popped up (true or not) and has gotten worse since.

      lets be honest this has to lie on the managers shoulders. clearly time for him to go. you can only trade/sign so many players, fire/hire so many coaches before you look at the GM.

  8. imgoingtowichita - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Where is tamara ribeiro to settle all this?

  9. molsonexport - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    You can’t cook a great meal with crap ingredients.

    • ibieiniid - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      um… try telling that to Taco Bell.

      • molsonexport - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        I guess you’re right. There are always exceptions…

  10. bitlrc - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    The comments from Oates and Halak’s agent aren’t mutually exclusive. Halak (in his own words) said “if you want me to play, I’ll play.” Not exactly champing at the bit there. Oates said Halak wasn’t 100% comfortable playing. Seems to me like they’re 2 sides of the same coin.

    • 19inarow - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:09 PM

      Thanks so much for properly using the word, “champing,” instead of “chomping” at the bit. Horses champ at that bit.

      On a more pertinent note, Caps fans must rue the day Boudreau was fired, seeing how well he’s doing in Anaheim. But then at least you’ve got a GM who’s willing to fire a coach, unlike Garth Snow and his golden boy, Crap Crapuano! Talk about a coach who should be fired, amirite?

      And can we have Halak, pleeeeease?

      • captnstabn - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        The verdict is still out on that one…He’s always done well during the regular season, but came up short in the playoffs. Just like last year with the ducks. I guess we’ll see how far they go this year.

  11. bencia823 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I don’t think either of them are lying. “if you want me to play, I’ll play” is the type of thing somebody says when they aren’t 100% committed to doing something. It’s like when I have plans to go out for a beer and the boss asks me to stay late and work. I’ll say “if you need me, I can do it”, but I’m really thinking “please don’t make me do this, I’d rather have a beer”. Oates didn’t say Halak refused to play, he said that he didn’t feel that Halak was 100% committed, which his answer seems to indicate

  12. muckleflugga - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    thailer35

    i’m leaning toward a cross between lestat the vampire and legolas the elf but yeah, ray liotta works

  13. jaguar0413 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    This continues the disturbing pattern of Oates throwing his players under the bus all season long. In almost every case, he has been 100% wrong.

    1. He played Erat only 6 minutes a night and publicly criticized him throughout the first two months of the season. Despite that, Erat had the best possession numbers of any forward on the team and the third most even strength assists.

    2. He publicly criticized Dmitry Orlov’s game and refused to play him until Orlov demanded a trade in December. Since then, Orlov has been one of the better defensemen on the team. He has made his share of mistakes, but he has proven that he deserved to be playing all season long.

    3. He stated that he thought Brooks Laich was nursing his injury and making it out to be more serious than it was. Less than one week later, Laich had season ending surgery to fix his groin/abdomen.

    4. He said that Ovechkin quit on a play.

    5. This Halak issue.

    4 players (if you include rumors of Mike Green) have requested trades from the team because they don’t want to play for him. His line combinations are mind-boggling. His system doesn’t work. He is losing the locker room. When players like Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner publicly state that the team is not prepared to play, you know you have a problem.

    FIRE THIS CLOWN NOW!

  14. footballchamp - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Let me guess, Washington will eventually fire Oates. Because, yeah, he’s the problem.

    The real issue appears to be a solid lack of team direction, from their owner on down. They need one voice and one vision. Their current situation suggests otherwise.

    In addition, spending a little more on R&D wouldn’t be such a bad thing either. They really need to have some solid drafts since attracting the top FA might be difficult considering their place in the NHL.

    It’s sort of funny, they seem to be stuck in the old Washington Bullets conundrum. Finish middle of the pack, get a middle of the pack draft pick. That in turn leads to finishing in the middle of the pack.

    Either way, we all know that their current situation is simply not good enough.

    • storminator16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      Folks are blaming owners/GMs for a lot more than they have control over. Coaches are coaches. Oates is a fairly bad one. Un-done by his arrogance.

  15. laxnhockey - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Are Adam Oates and Tuukka Rask related?

    • ibieiniid - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      no, but their eyebrows are.

  16. 2qswing - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Halak says I told him if he wants me to play I’ll play. In reference to #Caps coach Adam Oates

    Boy that comment must have really given Oates tremendous confidence for a must win game. Halak is being a real pu$$y here and now back peddling with his agent running interference for him. “If you want me to play I’ll play”??? How about ” no problem coach. you have no idea how much I want to beat these guys”.

  17. skr213 - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I’m no fan of Oates, but this definitely seems like Halak being a douche. If you got traded, wouldn’t you be just itching to play your former team in order to give them a “ef you!”? Seems like a mental issue on Halak’s part.

  18. alicesrightfootesq - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    “I know this time I have to improve my handling of player relationships,” said new head coach Adam Oates at this morning’s Florida Panthers press conference.

  19. dtownbeatdown - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    This is non-hockey related and I apologize, but I just have to say it…

    OATES LOOKS LIKE HE JUST STUMBLED OUT OF WHOVILLE!

  20. csilojohnson - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    all but said and said are two different things. opposites actually. “All but said” implies he didnt say he was uncomfortable playing. I dont see what the fuss is about. Obviously Oates didnt think Halak looked 100% comfortable. Which is a more accurate comprehension of what he said. As well as a risk the coach wasnt willing to take.
    Still think Oates is fired this summer. Either the caps get rid of Ovi or go all in and do what the Skins did with BobG3. Have Ovi interview the coaching canidates.

  21. cliffatola - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    If Halak has a response of anything other than ” Yes, I want to beat the team that gave up on me” he shouldn’t play that game because his heart isn’t in it. For Oates to spill it to the media isn’t right but he still made the right call in starting Holtby against the Blues. McPhee, Kolzig and Oates need to go, Oates overthinks the game and makes it too complex, Kolzig has been messing with the mechanics of Holtby all season long who had numbers comparable to Lundqvist a few seasons ago and now this season Kolzig is telling him he plays too far outside the net when facing shooters. McPhee made the no brainer pick in Ovechkin and it certainly turned the franchise around but some of the picks he has made really make you wonder, most notably picking Eric Fehr with the pick right before Anaheim took Ryan Getzlaf or Anton Gustafsson (yes, son of Bengt) who doesn’t even play hockey anymore last I heard before the Oilers took Jordan Eberle. He has been in DC for a long time and his decisions are ultimately what affects the team everyday and they aren’t going to get it done or so it would appear at this point.

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