Updated, 3:51 p.m.: The Capitals rounded out their coaching staff and upped the experience level behind the bench significantly Monday when they named Tim Hunter as an assistant coach.
Hunter, 51, has 13 seasons and 1,041 games as an NHL assistant coach under his belt, including five in Washington from 1997-98 to 2001-02. As he joins first-time head coach Adam Oates and first-time NHL assistant coach Calle Johansson, Hunter knows he is expected to be the experienced anchor of the staff.
“Every organization needs experience, whether it’s in management, scouting, the players -- it’s the same with coaching. You need experience on the coaching staff,” Hunter said. “I talked to Adam early on he was looking for someone with experience and I definitely have that. I’m a career assistant coach and I’m looking forward to helping Adam and Calle become better coaches and the Caps to become a better team. ”
Hunter’s entire coaching career has been spent under former Capitals coach Ron Wilson. He got his start in Washington with Wilson then continued to work with him in San Jose (2001-02 to 2007-08) and Toronto (2008-09 to 2010-11). This will be his first job with a different new head coach, but Hunter has plenty of familiarity with the rest of the staff.
During his first stint in Washington, Hunter coached three players he will now work with behind the bench – Oates, Johansson and associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig. In addition to working with the players, Hunter expressed his enthusiasm for helping his new colleagues develop as coaches themselves.
“I started off with the Caps, 15 years ago with Ron and I was a first time coach. I was able to learn the ropes and become an entrepreneur at my own position,” Hunter said. “That was through good guidance by Ron and Tim Army, who taught me how to be a professional coach and I learned a tremendous amount from him. It’s my turn to do the same thing.”
In addition to his connection to the aformentioned members of the coaching staff, Hunter also has strong ties to Capitals General Manager George McPhee. Not only was McPhee in place as general manager during Hunter’s first coaching tenure in Washington, but he served as the Vancouver Canucks’ director of hockey operations under Pat Quinn during when Hunter played there.
As a player, Hunter spent time with Calgary, Quebec, Vancouver and San Jose over 16 seasons. He appeared in 815 career NHL games, won the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989 and ranks eighth all-time with 3,146 career penalty minutes.
Hunter, like Oates, believes in treating players with the respect he wanted from coaches during his career.
“I got into this to treat players how I liked to be treated and you always have to separate the player from the person. If he had a bad game, he’s not a bad guy,” Hunter said. “You’re not just teaching hockey players, you’re teaching people to become better people and better hockey players.
“It’s quite a full circle when you look at my coaching path when you look at Adam and Calle and Olie Kolzig,” Hunter said. “I’ll now be coaching with them. I would like to think somewhere along the line I was part of helping them become better people and allow them to become NHL coaches.”