With Hunter selectively using Ovechkin at times (giving him 13 minutes of ice-time during a playoff game last year), it was no surprise to hear the star admit in an exclusive interview with Chuck Gormley of Comcast Sportsnet Washington that he felt trapped by his former coach:
"I learned a lot last year. Of course, last year was not my role on the team. With more ice I can give more to the team. It was [Hunter's] decision and he had his own mind and his own kind of personality and his own systems. Of course sometimes I felt trapped."
Having dealt with two coaches last year after the team relieved Bruce Boudreau in November, Ovechkin will be taking orders from his third bench boss in as many seasons with the arrival of Adam Oates.
With Boudreau and Ovechkin having some conflict of their own, the forward stated that he trusted Oates and looked forward to working with him. Their relationship will begin with a fresh start in more ways than one, as Oates has suggested that the career left winger make a switch to the right side.
Ovechkin is willing to give the concept a shot:
"We decided together it's going to be better for the team and for me. It creates something new for me and for different teams to cover me. Of course it's going to be a hard couple games, maybe one game, maybe one shift, and then I'll get used to it."