The applause echoed through the rafters and the sound of stomping feet rumbled across the aluminum bleachers as members of the
Amid the celebration,
"It was incredible. It was a lot of fun, it was great to finally get that over with, get the guys moving and be a part of it," Oates said. "It's been tough because you want to [coach]. The buildup and how long it's been, very excited about it."
Oates has already spoken with every player several times and held one-on-one video sessions with most of them, but this week marks the beginning of his two-pronged challenge as a new coach.
Not only does Oates need to install his system, a hybrid that aims to push the pace and promote an aggressive offense while still expecting sound defensive play, he's also working to earn the trust of every player in the Capitals dressing room.
He plans to fully brief them on the system in the first half of the week before shifting the focus to preparing for the season opener Saturday at Tampa Bay.
Oates called Sunday a "long day," adding that he threw a lot of information at the Capitals. "I thought they handled it well," he said. Despite the volume of new material, the players said Oates makes it easy for them to follow his direction.
"He made it simple and he made it easy to grasp," defenseman
Not all head coaches address their defensemen directly, instead deferring to an assistant coach in charge of the unit,
"He knows exactly what he wants; he knows how to teach it. It's proven to be a good system, and he's easy to understand," Alzner said. "Normally it is just the 'D' coach that talks to the 'D,' and it's almost separate sometimes from the forwards. Now it's more of one unit. ... It's way easier to read and make plays when we all know what it's supposed to be instead of ad-libbing like we have been in the past. It should be a great system as long as we do the work."
It's one of respect that focuses on the various details of each player's role and responsibility, Holtby said.
"With Adam, I think everyone learns really quickly that he's a very good instructor. Some coaches are motivational guys and whatnot," Holtby said. "Adam is very about the details and very technical, and that's something you really appreciate as a professional because your job is to prepare yourself for games. What Adam wants to do is make sure we're given the instruction to get better."
Oates knows six days of practice before a 48-game season that will take place over only 99 days isn't ideal, but he's making the best of the situation. At this stage, after weeks of studying old video of his players, Oates is glad to be working with them on a daily basis.
There will be some adjustment to the system and as players find their footing in an NHL season once again. The early games won't be perfect, but Oates is confident that the Capitals will be able to push through this in-between stage quickly.
"It's a growing period. Hopefully we're a strong enough team to get through that. I think we are," Oates said. "It's tough in a short season to get through it, but that's why you have to work to be good everywhere. We're pretty healthy, so there's no reason why we can't get through this growing process."