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Blog Entry

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

Posted on: November 28, 2011 8:44 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 6:17 pm
 
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By Brian Stubits

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals announced on Monday morning that they have fired head coach Bruce Boudreau and named former player Dale Hunter to be his replacement.

Hunter will make his debut as the Caps' new boss on Tuesday night in Washington against the St. Louis Blues.

The rumor mill picked up late Sunday night when Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reported that he was hearing rumblings Boudreau could be out as coach in 24-48 hours. He had it wrong. Apparently it was more like 12 hours.

"The reason for the change was we weren't winning, obviously," general manager George McPhee said. "This wasn't a slump. You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce. When you see that, as muc as you don't want to make a change you have to make a change.

"Bruce did a terrific job here, we're very proud of him, very proud of the work he did for us. But when the players aren't responding, you have to make a change."

Can you view the Boudreau, then, as a failure?

More NHL Coaching Changes

"I don't view this as a negative or a failure at all," McPhee said. "I think Bruce came in and did a great job, but his time was up."

Boudreau took over as the Capitals coach during the 2007-08 season, replacing Glen Hanlon, and in parts of five seasons behind the team's bench compiled an impressive 201-88-40 regular season record. The team qualified for the postseason in each of the previous four seasons but struggled to have the regular season success carry over to the playoffs, never advancing beyond the second round of the playoffs, and twice exiting in the first round. That includes the 2009-10 season when they won the Presidents Trophy with the best record in the NHL and were dismissed by the No. 8 seed Montreal Canadiens in seven games.

Replacing him will be the 51-year-old Hunter who has spent the past decade coaching the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and leading them to the Memorial Cup championship during the 2004-05 season. He owns the highest career winning percentage of any coach in the OHL's history.

Hunter, of course, also played for the Capitals between 1987 and 1999 during a career that saw him score 323 goals and compile over 3,500 penalty minutes in 1,407 regular season games. Along with the Capitals, he also spent time with the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche.

"This has been my team ... I shouldn't say my team, it's Ted's [Leonsis] team but it feels like my team because I played here for so long and I have good memories here," Hunter said at his meet the media session after Monday's team practice here at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "I taped every game for the last how many years?"

Asked what Hunter will bring as a coach, McPhee talked about the pedigree Hunter has.

"Hopefully [he brings] the same things that he brought as a player," McPhee said. "Obvioulsy Dale was an intelligent player, he had talent and he was tough, downright mean at times. We probably won't see a player like that again for a while. You don't see numbers like the numbers he's had. But he played 19 years in this league and I think the best thing you could ever say Dale Hunter was whether the game was home or away or he was injured or healthy or we were winning or losing, that guy played the same every night. And it was hard. So he had really a great NHL career over 19 years, played a heck of a lot of playoff games."

As for his jump from the OHL to the NHL? McPhee isn't worried.

"No one's been better at that level. In that Ontario Hockey League that's been around forever, he has the best winning percentage of all time. It's not a flash in the pan; one or two or three years. It's 11 years. He's turned that franchise into the best junior franchise going."

Hunter, the only player in NHL history to have 300 goals and 3,000 penalty minutes in his career, will bring his style back to Washington, a city where he is remembered fondly as one of only four retired jerseys in the rafters.

"We're going to be a hard team to play against," Hunter said. "We're going to be on the puck hard, forecheck hard, really responsible defensively, backside pressure coming back through the neutral zone so teams can't run-and-gun on ya."

Asked if his team will play the way Hunter did, he didn't exactly say yes.

"Too many referees out there now!" Hunter said, drawing a laugh from the massive media contingent. "There's an extra referee out there now."

One of the big concerns, then, is getting this team to respond. If Boudreau lost the team's ear, how can he expect to get it back? How will his approach differ from that of Boudreau?

"Every coach coaches differently," Hunter said. Sometimes the players hear your voice everyday and sometimes the players don't execute as well as they should.

"I'm a player's coach, but also the players will know when I'm mad at them. I'm stern on them, that's the way you have to be to win game. Mistakes ... everybody makes mistakes out there, but if he continues making mistakes than there will be repurcussions."

That sounds a bit like the accountability mantra Boudreau was preaching this season. One difference though is that Hunter will start with that attitude. It's much easier for players to accept it when you are always more stern than somebody like Boudreau who was a bit more of a player's coach who tried to turn into a demanding coach in the offseason. That's a difficult change to make.

This is already the second in-season coaching change of the NHL season, as the Blues, Washington's opponent on Tuesday night, replaced Davis Payne with Ken Hitchcock earlier this month.

The Capitals opened the season on a 7-0 record and the best record in the NHL, but have followed that up with a 5-9-1 run and have struggled the most over the past two weeks, getting blown out by Buffalo, New York and Toronto, while also dropping games to Nashville and Winnipeg.

Adam Gretz contributed to this report

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments

Since: Feb 3, 2011
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

But no, they take one incident from a great career and peg a guys as a serial cheap-shot artist.  Because guys like Matt Cooke are such upstanding citizens.
One incident out of MANY. He makes Cooke look like a choir boy. Seriously.

But I take it since you're a Craps fan you just started watching hockey so you don't know who Dale Hunter is. Here's some Lady Bing-worthy material for you:







And in case any of you missed it, perhaps the worst cheap shot ever:



Mind you, Dale Hunter's career pre-dates youtube, but I can tell you from watching him during his career that these are just the tip of the iceberg with this guy. Dale Hunter WAS a serial cheap-shot artist if ever there was one.

He has the second-most penalty minutes in NHL history! Do you think those are just for things like holding or tripping? You Craps fans embarrass yourselves every time you post something.



Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

I wish you would have said this from the begining. All this time I thought your pathetic jabs at anything Pittsburgh were coming from someone who was destitute. I stand corrected.




apology accepted.



Since: Apr 27, 2009
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

my paycheck and lavish lifestyle disagree
I wish you would have said this from the begining. All this time I thought your pathetic jabs at anything Pittsburgh were coming from someone who was destitute. I stand corrected.



Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

If Pittsburgh is so freakin wonderful, how come so many yinz have transferred to the greater DC area?



Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

EVERY single person from the DC-Baltimore area are the same. Think they are so tough and better than everyone else. That area of the country is a black hole. Idiots.



Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:05 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

my paycheck and lavish lifestyle disagree. don't feel sorry for me.
Ah yes, the ole "I make more money than you" argument. Because we all tell the truth on the internet, right?

Let me guess, you work for the government too, own a 10,000 sqft mansion, have 3 Lambos, and 4 ex-wives who you pay 80% of your paycheck to.

What a loser.



Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

Of course, can't make a move in DC without the knuckle-draggers from the 'Burgh chirping in with their inane comments.  You'd think they'd have better things to do, like looking for jobs.  But no, they take one incident from a great career and peg a guys as a serial cheap-shot artist.  Because guys like Matt Cooke are such upstanding citizens.

Hunter was hard-nosed as they come and hopefully that toughness will rub off on a team that has been pretty soft this season.  Look, I love Boudreau for what he has done but, clearly he's lost the team.  We'll see if Hunter is the right move.  Of course, we'll continue to have the wonderful insight of the mouth-breathers from the Steel City, telling us how Mario and Crosby are better than Howe and Gretzky and how hockey was invented in Pittsburgh.  Just more drivel from their periogi soaked brains.    



Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

Sister, you're so dumb I kinda feel sorry for you.




my paycheck and lavish lifestyle disagree. don't feel sorry for me.


now get back to work.


i am shocked that pay-less shoes allows stock boys access to computers!  



Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

just come out of the closet already and admit you wish it were you in that bathroom



nah. Wanabee's like Pig Pen Emenim aren't my thing. 


but who wouldn't want to be that woman that Harrison beats on the regular!  



Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Capitals fire Boudreau, bring in Dale Hunter

nah... you guys are obsessed at all!











































ha ha ha!  


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