The Washington Capitals are fighting for a playoff spot in the final days of the regular season. If that wasn’t tough enough, the team also is dealing with an issue between head coach Adam Oates and starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Oates told reporters before Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues that Halak “wasn’t 100 percent comfortable” playing against his former team, which is why backup Braden Holtby started instead.
Not wanting to play in an incredibly important game late in the season didn’t make Halak look like a team player, and as expected, his agent, Allan Walsh, responded Wednesday with a statement. Walsh said Halak never asked to sit out Tuesday’s game and added that Oates betrayed his trust.
Sky Kerstein (@SkyKerstein) April 09, 2014
We might never know how Halak really felt about playing against the Blues, but regardless, conversations between players and coaches aren’t supposed to get out into the media. That’s coaching 101.
This situation doesn’t help Oates, whose job could be on the line if the Capitals fail to make the playoffs. Just last week, Oates said Capitals captain and franchise superstar Alexander Ovechkin quit on a play that led to a Dallas Stars goal in a 5-0 loss.
What Oates said was true, but those are comments that coaches should keep behind closed doors. A team trying to clinch a playoff spot with no room for error at the end of the season cannot afford to have any distractions.