The statement surprised Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green, even as the words came out of his mouth Sunday. He just couldn't believe the "clarity" new assistant coach and former Washington defenseman Calle Johansson had been able to provide on just the first day of training camp.

For years, Green and the rest of the Capitals defensemen have been receiving ever-changing messages about how they should play. Former Coach Bruce Boudreau encouraged his defensemen to join the rush, and even lead it sometimes. Dale Hunter, on the other hand, simply wanted his defense to dump the puck into the offensive zone.

Oates and Johansson are searching for a middle ground, with an emphasis on avoiding hits and eliminating doubt.

"There shouldn't be any questions really about what you should do," Johansson said following Monday's practice. "A hockey player likes to be told what to do in a certain way. You want rules. Hockey players, we're like kids. We want to be told what to do. But without taking away the creativity and the fun and all that stuff, so play within the boundaries.